Manchester United hit with major AFCON blow
Manchester United’s near £48 million pound summer signing and current number one, Andre Onana is on course to miss the beginning of 2024 with the Africa Cup of Nations.
Having started every game so far this season, 27-year-old Andre Onana is set to ignore his club’s hierarchy and join up with his home nation of Cameroon this January.
Set to be held in the Ivory Coast, this year’s tournament is due to begin on the 13th of January. A competition which Cameroon often do well in with five wins to date, if all goes as planned for the Central-African side, the ‘United’ shot-stopper may not return until after the 11th of February.
During this period Onana could miss several games from all competitions including games versus the high-flying Tottenham and Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.
Last year’s World Cup saw the former Inter-Milan star sent home from the tournament. After a falling out with manager Rigobert Song, reportedly over his team’s style of play and their use of the goalkeeper, it was later announced that Onana had retired from international football at 26.
When signing their new number one, United were led to believe that this was still the case and any potential worries of their goalkeeper missing two months of football was not in question. However, in September, Andre had decided to come out of retirement and play the final game of Afcon qualifying against Burundi. No doubt raising questions in the United camp.
After the departure of the Man United legend David De Gea, it was down to Onana to step up and become Manchester United’s new number one; a position which through the years has always come with great success and longevity. His start to the season was shaky, with mistakes against Brentford, Bayern Munich and Galatasaray, United fans were beginning to doubt the former Barcelona prospect’s ability. However much recently his form looks to have changed and a new wave of confidence is growing amongst him. His absence in January is now a concern for United.
With Ten Haag having only started one goalkeeper all season, the question is will his side’s two back up choices be up to scratch?
Altay Bayındır, a summer signing from Turkish giants Fenerbahce, has yet to see the playing field this season. A 25-year-old who in his career has made over 140 senior appearances and is also internationally capped. It remains unknown if he is in his managers plans for January, however with no minutes since last season, fans will be eager to see him play before Onana’s absence, hoping to get back up to match speed.
Tom Heaton is United’s other and most likely third choice goalkeeper. The 37-year-old Burnley legend re-joined United back in 2021 and has featured three times since returning in cup competitions. Although he possesses years of Premier League experience, his age is against him and with Ten Haag’s fluid, ‘playing out from the back football’, Tom Heaton doesn’t look like he fits in to his managers ideas.
United’s only other option is the January transfer window. With time on their side before Onana leaves, could we see another addition to the club’s goalkeeping ranks.
It is yet to be said by Ten Haag what his plans are for January but no doubt when the league is back after the international break, we will see what unfolds.