Andre Onana: Coveted Goalkeeper Struggling to Live Up to the Hype

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Andre Onana arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2023, hoping to solve Manchester United’s goalkeeping problems. However, he’s had a slow start, having conceded 18 goals in the first ten matches. In six of those games, Manchester United lost. Is the pressure of playing for the Red Devils too much to handle? Find out as we learn more about him.

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Andre Onana’s Childhood

Andre Onana’s early life wasn’t easy. He was born to poor parents in Cameroon, where he grew up alongside his brothers. Like many African parents, they wanted him to focus on his studies, but he was more interested in playing soccer. Onana was scouted by one of Samuel Eto’s academy scouts. This is where his journey into professional football began.

Nurturing Onana’s Talent

Andre Onana: Coveted Goalkeeper Struggling to Live Up to the Hype
Andre Onana playing for Ajax Amsterdam. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

The goalie was part of Samuel Eto’o’s Academy for three years. He played at a higher level than his peers and received a lot of praise. This aroused the interest of the Spanish club Barcelona, and Onana joined its famous academy, La Masia

At the time, Onana was 13 years old but managed to put his difficulties behind him and perform. His consistent growth led to his transfer to the Dutch club Ajax

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Professional Football

Andre Onana: Coveted Goalkeeper Struggling to Live Up to the Hype
Andre Onana playing for Inter Milan. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

Andre Onana began his senior career in Ajax Amsterdam’s reserve team, Jong Ajax. He played here for one year and made 39 appearances. In 2016, the shot-stopper graduated to the main team and became the club’s main goalkeeper. 

In six years at the club, Onana made 148 appearances and conceded 125 goals. Onana won a couple of trophies at Ajax, including:

  • Three Eredivise titles
  • Johan Cruyff Shield
  • Europa League
  • KNVB Cup

After six years on the side, Andre Onana left for Italian club Inter Milan on a free transfer. By the end of the season, the goalkeeper had won two trophies – Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana – and played in the Champions League final. 

Despite signing a five-year contract at Inter Milan, Onana left after one season to reunite with his former Ajax coach, Erik Ten Hag. With the departure of Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, the Cameroonian is the team’s first choice. 

Onana’s arrival was highly anticipated. Erik Ten Hag wanted a rounded goalkeeper and de Gea lucked in his ball-playing abilities. In Onana, the team has someone who’s poised and confident on and off the ball, can pass the ball from the back and is reliable.

One of the best coaches in the game, Pep Guardiola, likened him to a ‘holding midfielder’, due to his ability to intercept play in his territory and the back, plus launch counter-attacking passes from a holding midfielder’s position.

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Andre Onana’s Struggles

Onana’s start to life in the Manchester United goalpost hasn’t been inspiring. He’s leaked 18 goals in ten matches, and in some, he’s easily let the ball in. Although Ajax and Inter benefited from his distribution and positioning, the same isn’t happening at United. 

Onana sticks to his line more, and that gives the opposition a clear view of the goal. He’s also distributed the ball poorly and cost the team. What was supposed to be an upgrade is turning out to be a disaster. 

United fans are making their opinions known. Some are furious the club let their previous goalkeeper go, and others are calling for Onana to be benched.

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Onana Has United Support

Fans might be pressurizing the Cameroon international, but Manchester United are willing to work through with him. As it stands, reports indicate that Onana might forego the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2024 in favor of improving himself. 

Andre Onana can reclaim his form. He needs time, except that Manchester United players are hardly afforded time by their supporters. Do you think Onana will come good for the Red Devils?  

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