Erik ten Hag has confirmed goalkeeper Andre Onana will return to Old Trafford by Thursday this week.
The 27-year-old has been representing Cameroon at the 2024 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. It’s been far from a positive experience for the goalkeeper, however.
Onana was dropped for three of Cameroon’s four games at the tournament. The one game he did play – the second group stage match against Senegal – the Indomitable Lions fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat.
Long-standing issues with Samuel Eto’o, the President of the Cameroonian FA, and manager Rigobert Song are believed to have led to this exclusion from the starting eleven. In Onana’s place, Song selected Fabrice Ondoa – Onana’s cousin and a goalkeeper for Nimes Olympique, a third division French side.
Onana had planned to delay his arrival to the tournament in order to play in the crucial Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur. This decision led to the goalkeeper touching down in the Ivory Coast the morning of Cameroon’s opening game against Gambia, after a long and draining journey.
It was a choice the 27-year-old was widely criticised for by pundits and fans at the tournament. Reportedly, Onana opted to stay as long as possible in Manchester to avoid missing an important game, but also out of concern his replacement – Altay Bayindir – may thrive in his absence.
Bayindir made his debut for United yesterday, following his move from Fenerbahce in the summer.
The Turkish international produced a positive, albeit somewhat shaky, performance against Newport County. A few hair-raising moments with distribution were buttressed by a number of good saves and claims from crosses.
Though United would concede two goals to the League Two side, neither were Bayindir’s fault.
Speaking after the match, Ten Hag praised his number two goalkeeper’s “composed” performance. “I think it was a composed debut,” Ten Hag said at Rodney Parade. “Some good saves, so very composed. I think, overall, he can be happy.”
The Dutchman did confirm Onana “will be back for Thursday”, however.
United are set to resume their Premier League campaign with a trip to the Molineux Stadium to play Wolverhampton Wanderers on this day. Whether Ten Hag was indicating Onana would be back for the game or simply back in training is another story.
However, the Dutch manager did reveal that, “Maybe, for the first time as long as I was manager, I can pick a team from the squad that is probably the strongest here,” indicating the former.