Everything to know about Man United goalkeeper Andre Onana

Manchester United have signed goalkeeper Andre Onana from Inter Milan for a fee of around €50 million ($56.1m). David de Gea’s 12-year spell at Old Trafford came to an end earlier this month when he opted to leave on a free transfer, but how will the 27-year-old Onana fare as a replacement?

ESPN brings you all you need to know about the former Cameroon international.

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Early career and info

Onana was spotted playing on the streets of Cameroon’s capital city Yaounde by a member of the Samuel Eto’o Foundation — the charity set up by the country’s all-time top scorer and former Barcelona and Inter Milan forward. He was signed by Barcelona at age 14 and played in the Blaugrana‘s La Masia youth academy, where he became the No. 1 goalkeeper at his age group.

Developing his technical and physical skills during his time in Catalonia, the 6-foot-2 stopper became comfortable with the ball at his feet — playing out from the back and transitioning play well — to become a standout at under-19 level. But with a desire for regular first-team football, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen a fixture between the posts for the senior side, he decided to make the switch to Ajax in 2015, making his debut in 2016-17 season.

At Ajax he met manager Erik ten Hag, who arrived at the Johan Cruijff Arena in 2017. With his years at La Masia behind him, the Cameroon star proved to be a perfect fit for Ten Hag’s possession-based style of play. In total, he made 214 appearances and picked up a hat trick of Eredivisie titles, as well as two Dutch cups, while he helped guide Ajax to the semifinals of the Champions League in 2019.

A nine-month ban for a doping violation, which Onana said was down to accidentally taking a medicine meant for his girlfriend, saw his career stall in 2021. But he returned to action in November and helped Cameroon to a third-placed finish at the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil.

He opted not to extend his Ajax contract and signed for Inter on a free transfer in the summer of 2022, but controversy was not far away again as he quit international football in December after being sent home from the World Cup in Qatar after a disagreement over tactics.

Onana established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe and shone in the 2022-23 Champions League, helping Inter to the final where they narrowly lost out 1-0 to Manchester City. He conceded only 36 goals in 41 games at Inter, keeping 19 clean sheets.

Key Stats

Last season’s league stats indicate that Onana is a clear upgrade on De Gea in terms of build-up play. The 27-year-old averaged 27.1 passes in his own half, compared to De Gea’s 17.1. He was also more accurate with his passing with a 79.17% completion rate against De Gea’s 68.33%.

Onana had a slightly better save percentage (72.09%) than De Gea (70.14%), but the Spaniard did face 58 more shots.

When compared to some top Premier League goalkeepers, the data shows that Onana also had a better save percentage than both Liverpool’s Alisson (71.52%) and Manchester City’s Ederson (58.97%). Onana faced a similar number of shots (85) to Ederson (78) and made 62 saves, compared to his 46; while Alisson made 108 saves from 149 shots to sum up Liverpool’s poor season.

Onana’s passing wasn’t quite as accurate as Alisson (83.37%) or Ederson (84.40%), but he did show an greater tendency to play the ball forward (17.8 times per 90 mins, compared to 14.8 and 13.9 respectively) — a trait that should suit the style of his new team well.


Manchester United will benefit immediately from Onana’s buildup play. Ten Hag hasn’t always been able to deploy the system he has wanted to since arriving at Old Trafford, but the acquisition of Onana should have a similar impact to when he signed another of his former Ajax players for United: centre-back Lisandro Martinez.

Onana is a clear upgrade on De Gea with the ball at his feet, but is also more capable under pressure and can find his way out of trouble by forcing attackers off balance with quick turns before distributing the ball.

He excels at making reflex saves and has impressive reactions. He protects his near post well and is generally reliable in stopping shots from inside the box.

Some goalkeepers are much less comfortable when forced onto their weaker foot, but United fans shouldn’t to see that with Onana. He is capable with both feet when passing and clearing the ball.

Areas to improve

At 27, Onana is yet to reach his prime as a goalkeeper but needs to deal better with long shots. Generally, more consistency is required and while Onana is often quick to come off his line, he can sometimes be hesitant with his decision-making when the attacker gets to the ball first in one-vs.-one situations.

How will he fit at Manchester United?

De Gea played a key role at United since arriving from Atletico Madrid for around €25m in 2011, but it was vital that the club found a goalkeeper who fitted the core principles of Ten Hag’s tactical system. Despite his high level of ability at stopping shots, De Gea wasn’t at the required level with the ball at his feet and made too many mistakes.

The addition of Onana was Man United’s No. 1 priority this summer and he can help the club take the next step.

More adept at dealing with the opposition’s press with his passing and dribbling ability, his consistency in transitioning the ball forward at a higher success rate means Manchester United will enjoy a greater number of attacks during a game. He should also take little time to settle under Ten Hag, having enjoyed their time together at Ajax.

All things considered, it seems an excellent move for United, who have locked down their No. 1 spot for the foreseeable future.

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