Andre Onana has had a pretty disastrous start to life at Old Trafford, but Manchester United could sorely miss the goalkeeper at the beginning of 2024.
The Red Devils shot-stopper has been called up by Cameroon for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, the tournament played alongside fixtures in the English football calendar.
Onana, who has been much-maligned this season after some high-profile gaffes, has a troubled history with the Cameroon national team, only accumulating 37 caps for his country since his debut in 2016.
So, is Onana making the trip to 2023 AFCON?
Is Andre Onana going to 2023 AFCON?
Having been called up by Cameroon manager Rigobert Song after his banishment from the national team came to an end recently, Onana has decided to travel to 2023 AFCON with his country. However, it’s not quite that straightforward.
Despite players being allowed to leave for AFCON duty as of 1 January, Man Utd have already managed to delay Onana’s departure until after their FA Cup third round tie with Wigan Athletic on 8 January.
However, Onana is reportedly in discussions with the Cameroon FA to delay his call-up until after Man Utd’s clash with Tottenham in the Premier League on 14 January – only a day before his side’s first AFCON group stage game against Guinea.
Despite the clash with Spurs commencing at 16:30 (GMT) – just over 24 hours before Cameroon’s Group C opener – Onana would then be expected to take a seven-hour flight to Ivory Coast in order to play against Guinea.
While this is yet to be confirmed by Man Utd or Cameroon, it would also mean the goalkeeper would have no time to prepare for AFCON with his international teammates. Onana is already likely to miss the pre-tournament friendly with Zambia on 9 January, a fixture he is guaranteed to be absent for should he be allowed to delay his call-up.
Cameroon have been drawn against reigning champions Senegal in the group stage, as well as Guinea and Gambia.
Which games could Andre Onana miss for Manchester United?
Assuming Onana is granted permission by Cameroon to stay with Man Utd for the Tottenham clash, there is the slim possibility that he wouldn’t miss a single game for the Red Devils.
Should Cameroon fail to make it out of the group stage – which remains highly unlikely – Onana would return for Man Utd’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on 1 February.
However, the worst case scenario for Erik ten Hag is that Onana makes it all the way to the final with the 2017 champions, as he would miss a minimum of three games for Man Utd. They would be clashes with Wolves, West Ham United and Aston Villa in the Premier League in early February.
Who would replace Andre Onana for Manchester United?
When Onana leaves for AFCON, summer signing Altay Bayindir will be given his first minutes in a Man Utd shirt since his £4.3m move from Fenerbahce. The goalkeeper is yet to play for his new club but will likely be thrust into action in February.
The eight-cap Turkey international made well over a century of appearances for Fenerbahce, but is yet to come under the harsh spotlight at Old Trafford.
Speaking about the 25-year-old’s lack of game time in early December, Ten Hag said: “We are very pleased with Altay. He gets used to Premier League, he gets used to European football, which is tough when you are coming from Turkey but we are very pleased with the process. He is doing very well.
“He has to be patient but if he works well, if he keeps his progress, he will get his chances and he has to take this.”