Manchester United have signed goalkeeper Andre Onana from Inter Milan for a fee of around €50 million ($56.1m). David de Gea chose to depart on a free transfer earlier this month, ending his 12-year stay at Old Trafford.
A representative of the Samuel Eto’o Foundation, the organization founded by the nation’s all-time leading scorer and former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker, noticed Onana playing on the streets of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.
He joined the Blaugrana’s La Masia youth academy at the age of 14 and quickly rose to the top custodian position for his age group. At that point, he was signed by Barcelona.
He decided to move to Ajax in 2015 because he wanted to play regular first-team football and since Marc-Andre ter Stegen was a staple in goal for the senior team. He made his debut for Ajax in the 2016–17 season.
Manager Erik ten Hag, who moved to the Johan Cruijff Arena in 2017, was introduced to him at Ajax. The Cameroon star proved to be an ideal fit for Ten Hag’s possession-based style of play.
He played 214 matches overall, won three Eredivisie championships, two Dutch cups, and assisted Ajax in reaching the Champions League quarterfinals in 2019.
He declined to extend his Ajax contract and joined Inter in the summer of 2022 on a free transfer. In the 2022–23 Champions League, Onana distinguished himself as one of the top goalkeepers in Europe.
He led Inter to the championship game, where they lost to Manchester City by a slender margin of 1-0. He conceded only 36 goals in 41 games at Inter, keeping 19 clean sheets.
League statistics from the previous season show that Onana is a definite improvement over De Gea in terms of build-up play. Compared to De Gea’s 17.1, the 27-year-old averaged 27.1 passes in his own half. In comparison to De Gea’s 68.33%, he completed passes with a completion rate of 79.17%.
Onana outperformed De Gea in terms of save percentage (72.09% vs. 70.14%), but De Gea did face 58 more shots.
Onana had a higher save percentage than some of the top Premier League goalies, including Liverpool’s Alisson (71.52%) and Manchester City’s Ederson (58.97%), according to the data.
Onana’s buildup play will immediately help Manchester United. Since moving to Old Trafford, Ten Hag hasn’t always been able to use the system he’s desired, but the signing of Onana should have a similar effect as when he recruited another of his former Ajax players for United: center-back Lisandro Martinez.
He has excellent reflex saves and quick responses. He effectively defends his near post and consistently stops shots that are fired from within the box.
De Gea has been essential for United since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011 for about €25 million, but the team had to find a keeper that matched the fundamentals of Ten Hag’s technical philosophy.
De Gea has a high degree of shot-stopping ability, but he wasn’t as proficient with the ball in his hands and committed too many errors.
Onana was Man United’s first objective this summer, and he can assist the team in moving forward. Overall, it appears to be a great decision for United, who have secured their No. 1 position for the foreseeable future.