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Transfer Spotlight: Man United’s Andre Onana

United’s game-changing goalkeeper with ball-distribution prowess is set to shine as a Red Devil!

Andre Onana - Manchester United - Premier League
Do you think Andre Onana will succeed at Old Trafford?
Photo by Mike Lawrence/ISI Photos/Getty Images

For the past 12 years, David de Gea has been the stalwart between the posts for Man United, leaving an impressive legacy of 545 club appearances, 190 clean sheets, and the prestigious 2022-23 golden gloves award. But as the Spaniard departs, a new era begins with the rise of a promising young goalkeeper.

Just yesterday in Texas, in his debut game against Real Madrid, glimpses of the next #1 (or number 24) emerged. Soon he will face Wolves in GW-1 of his first Premier League campaign.

Man United’s latest addition is none other than goalkeeper Andre Onana, acquired for a significant £47.2m (55m euro) fee from Inter Milan. The Cameroon international has signed a five-year contract with an option for a 12-month extension.

Onana’s arrival at Manchester United marks a significant on-field change, succeeding David de Gea. The Cameroon international is not just a shot-stopper but an excellent ball-playing goalkeeper, capable of making precise passes to overcome opposition pressure and initiate attacks.

His signing is a notable achievement for coach Erik ten Hag, as he not only secures one of the world’s best goalkeepers but also brings in a player familiar with his preferred football style, having played 145 times under Ten Hag during their Ajax days.


Andre Onana, originally from Nkol Ngok Cameroon, has established himself as a highly talented and ball-confident goalkeeper in European football, and that was clear since the past season.

Starting his football journey at the Samuel Eto’o Academy, Onana later joined Barcelona’s renowned La Masia youth system.

After gaining experience on loan in Spain, he made a permanent 2015 move to Ajax where he quickly rose to prominence and made his senior debut at the age of 20. At Ajax he played a key role in the successful 2018-19 season, winning the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup double.

Despite facing challenges due to the Covid pandemic and a ban, Onana’s career thrived, leading him to join Inter Milan in 2022, where he won the Coppa Italia and Supercopa Italiana.

He made a significant impact on the international stage as well, representing Cameroon in major tournaments, including the African Cup of Nations.

How will Onana fit at Manchester United?

“Onana was playing like a holding midfielder. He was in the positions of a holding midfielder. We struggled.”

Pep Guardiola, the mastermind behind Man City’s success, humorously likened Andre Onana to a “holding midfielder” following the Champions League final. Onana’s ability to take up unique positions on the field and execute impressive passes caught Guardiola’s attention. The City boss even pointed out that Onana’s qualities made Inter Milan the complete opposite of Manchester United in terms of build-up play, showcasing the Cameroonian goalkeeper’s exceptional skills and impact on the game.

Pep told CBS Sports, “Onana makes it really difficult to deploy a high press against. You cannot press the goalkeeper properly. They are masters at keeping the ball, right up to the attackers.” He added: “If you look at United, for example, it is long ball. With Rashford and another [forward] to run onto.”

Guardiola’s praise for Onana reflects his pioneering role in utilizing ball-playing goalkeepers. Since his revolutionary use of Victor Valdes in 2009, Guardiola’s influence has permeated the Premier League, shaping the modern style of goalkeeping.

“From every area of the team, I want productivity. That’s the most important thing, that players take the initiative on and off the ball, in offense and defense,” Ten Hag said in pre-season last year.

Considering the potential impact, United could witness a transformation in playing style. With defensive players like Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Casemiro already adept at playing through the lines, and with Bruno Fernandes higher up the field, adding a skilled ball-playing goalkeeper seems like the logical next step.

In the 2022-23 season, English clubs accounted for eight of the top 20 teams with the most high turnovers in the top five leagues, making the Premier League the competition with the highest average of 16.04 turnovers per game.

Onana’s abilities align well with the demands of Manchester United’s playing style. According to Opta and Player Analysis, his pass accuracy of 93.8% in his own half last season was surpassed by only 12 goalkeepers across Europe’s top five leagues (minimum 1,000 minutes played), with only three attempting more passes per 90 minutes (28.8) in that category.

In Serie A, he was involved in 1.7 open-play shot-ending sequences per 90 minutes, bettered by only two goalkeepers (minimum 650 minutes played) among the top five leagues. Additionally, just four players in the same group averaged more shot-ending build-up involvements (1.5) per game. These stats suggest that Onana’s skills would be well-utilized in United’s build-up play.

At the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Onana set a record for the most touches (26) outside the box in a single game as a goalkeeper, coming from a total of 46 touches in open play during the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland. However, a disagreement with head coach Rigobert Song over his risk-taking style led to Onana’s retirement from international football after the tournament.

Erik ten Hag’s system at United encourages conceding shots, as it allows for exploiting spaces at the other end. Last season, United faced 481 shots, fewer than only Tottenham, Fulham, and Brentford among top-half teams.

In comparison to David de Gea, Onana’s 71.8% save percentage in the league last season was higher than De Gea’s 69.9%. He also led the Champions League in ‘goals prevented,’ keeping out 7.8 (excluding own goals) based on Opta’s expected goals on target conceded (xGOT) metric, although he conceded 2.5 more goals than expected in Serie A.

Throughout football’s history, goalkeepers have often been undervalued and underutilized, but times have changed. André Onana stands as a prime example of the modern goalkeeper at an elite level. He’s not just a shot-stopper; he possesses a risk-taking, positive, and creative mentality, embodying the evolution of goalkeeping in the sport.

Adapting to the pressing intensity will be crucial for Onana in the early months at United, but if he settles well, he is expected to play a significant role in Ten Hag’s system.

Fantasy Prospects

At £5m for FPL’s new season, consider Andre Onana for your team. As debuts in the Premier League, it’s important to note that Manchester United kept an impressive 17 clean sheets last season, thanks to former #1 David De Gea and the Red Devils’ defensive line-up who played a big part in securing a third-placed finish in 2022-23.


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Stats and info for this article were sourced from:,, and