Manchester United suffer a huge blow as Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana is set to step foot into international football
According to the Manchester Evening News, Andre Onana has made a surprise return to Cameroon’s national team, potentially posing a huge blow for Manchester United’s Premier League (PL) season.
Last year, the African star made a dramatic exit from international football, leaving the Cameroon squad during the World Cup in Qatar following a dispute with coach Rigobert Song.
The 27-year-old has been included in the African side’s squad for the AFCON qualifier against Burundi next month. Cameroon only needs a draw to qualify for the tournament in January.
If they advance and Onana continues to be part of the squad, he might miss up to four PL matches with Man United.
Considering Dean Henderson’s move to Crystal Palace and Tom Heaton’s injury, Erik ten Hag is currently facing a shortage of experienced backup goalkeepers.
A deal to sign Fenerbahce star Altay Bayindir has been agreed upon, and the Turkish player might have a more significant role in United’s campaign than initially expected.
In a news conference following the announcement of Onana’s return to the squad, Cameroon’s manager, Song, stated that the door had never been completely shut on the player, who boasts 34 international caps. As quoted by ESPN, he said:
‘There was never a problem with Andre, the door has always been open to him and we are happy he is coming back to join the group.”
United’s first-choice goalkeeper was officially sent home from Qatar during the World Cup for disciplinary reasons.
This followed tensions between him and manager Song regarding the coach’s tactics. Consequently, despite a 1-0 victory over Brazil, the squad failed to advance beyond the group stages.
The AFCON tournament, initially scheduled for this summer, was moved to early 2024 due to weather concerns. This shift is causing disruption for several Premier League teams.
It’s been a troublesome week for Ten Hag, as he could miss the injured Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, and Mason Mount.
Meanwhile, if Song’s team manages to avoid defeat, they will secure qualification for the final tournament scheduled between January 13 and February 11 next year.
If Onana remains in the squad for this competition, he is likely to miss several crucial matches for the Red Devils.
During this period, Ten Hag’s team is slated to play four matches. It begins with a critical game against Tottenham at Old Trafford, followed by an away fixture against Wolves at Molineux.
Afterwards, they will host West Ham and then travel to Aston Villa to complete their schedule of matches during the AFCON. Depending on their progress in the Champions League and FA Cup, they may have additional fixtures.
United will certainly need to monitor Onana‘s availability closely, as this situation might necessitate signing another goalkeeper during the January transfer window to cover this challenging phase of the season.
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Losing their top goalkeeper for almost a month in the packed January schedule is far from an ideal situation for the former Ajax manager.
The fans would hope that the No. 24’s absence won’t have a negative impact during that period, and United might have a new backup goalkeeper available to step in during this time.