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What to expect from Andre Onana as United’s goalkeeper

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Andre onana transfer
Andre Onana. Photo/EUroSport
  • Andre Onana transfer from Inter Milan to Manchester United is such a big deal
  • He is the perfect replacement of former skipper David de Gea
  • The transfer deal is worth $55 million

Andre Onana transfer from Inter Milan to Manchester United is such a big deal for manager Erik ten Hag as he looks for the perfect replacement of former skipper David de Gea for $55 million (£43 million).

Ten Hag worked together with Onana, a Cameroonian for four and a half years at Ajax but it’s fair to say things weren’t always easy between them at the time.

However, it’s obvious that Ten Hag wants Onana to take David de Gea’s place as United’s starting goalkeeper. This gives plenty of hints about the style of play the Dutchman wants his squad to adopt moving ahead.


Onana’s style is in many aspects completely different from De Gea’s. While the United goalkeeper is a superb shot-stopper who has rescued the Red Devils from certain defeat numerous times during his 12-year tenure, he struggled when the ball was on his feet.

De Gea had well-publicized mistakes in United matches against West Ham, Brentford, and Sevilla before being blamed for Manchester City’s victorious goal by Ilkay Gundogan in the FA Cup final.

andre onana transfer

Andre Onana. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

While he had the ball, he frequently appeared timid and was only capable of making the simplest of short passes, Argentine player Lisandro Martinez.

Ironically, Onana is completely at ease with the ball in his feet and has a varied range of passing that any outfield player would be proud of. He demonstrated this in front of a large audience in Inter’s Champions League final loss to City in June.

According to FBref, Onana completed 224 of his attempts at short passes and 98% of his attempts at medium-range passes during league games last season. Further, 54.7 percent of the pinged long balls that were aimed at Inter’s forwards were successful. Onana completed 81.3 percent of the 1030 passes he tried overall.

The Cameroonian replaced Samir Handanovic as Inter’s first choice last season as a result of his ball pass style. He played every minute of their Champions League run.

In contrast, De Gea completed passes at a rate of 71.1 percent and attempted long balls at a rate of 43.6 percent in his 38 Premier League appearances last season. Therefore, Onana clearly has a better style of play on close range which is one of the factor United looked at when initiating the transfer.


Ten Hag places a lot of emphasis on having game control, which comes from having the ball in your feet. Last season, United didn’t exert the needed control good enough, particularly when playing harder opponents away from home.

However, getting this back in shape is still a work in progress, and Onana will lead them. In fact, the Inter Milan skipper often initiates plays from a position farther forward than the other two center halves.

United dislikes getting pushed and hasn’t been adept at playing their way out from the back.  Onana only appeared in 24 league games for Inter in 2022–23, but he was responsible for eight shot-creating actions, or the two actions that come before a shot is fired. De Gea only managed five goals in 38 games.

Andre onana transfer

Andre onana.Photo/The Athletic

Onana’s familiarity with the ball, calmness under pressure, and distribution range are all positives and an improvement over De Gea. It should help United catch up to the caliber of teams like City, Arsenal, and Liverpool, who have recently been able to play themselves out of trouble with ease.

Moreover, Onana, is unquestionably a more colorful character especially with the scrutiny Old Trafford gives new players. One incident that ticked him is his heated moment with Cameroon manager Rigobert Song at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The argument came on following his propensity to take chances with the ball in his feet during the 2014 World Cup. Song eventually dropped Onana from his squad. He appeared in 34 games for Cameroon until his benching by Song benched following their World Cup opener against Switzerland. Angered by this move, he officially announced his retirement from international football a month later.

With his transfer to Old Trafford, expect Onana to be his own man as he adjusts to the Premier League.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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