After assisting Cameroon in earning a spot in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Manchester United may be without goalkeeper Andre Onana for up to nine games.
Onana came out of retirement last month and participated in Cameroon’s first match since their World Cup opener against Switzerland almost ten months prior. After an altercation with manager Rigobert Song at the competition, the 27-year-old first announced his retirement from international football. However, he later played in their 3-0 AFCON qualification triumph over Burundi.
The victory ensured Cameroon’s participation in the AFCON, which will take place in the Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11 of the following year. The tournament had been planned for June and July of this year in order to avoid a conflict with European club football, but it had to be relocated due to worries about severe rains in west Africa during those months.
Onana’s likely absence from up to four Premier League games, two FA Cup games, two League Cup games, and a Champions League knockout game may cause United a lot of trouble in the upcoming season.
The third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup are scheduled for January 6-7 and January 27-28, respectively. United is scheduled to play Tottenham on January 13, Wolves on January 30, West Ham on February 3, and Aston Villa on February 10.
Although the third round officially does not conflict with the AFCON, it seems doubtful that Onana would be available given that Cameroon is getting ready for the competition.
After winning the League Cup last year, if United advances to the semi-finals once more, Onana might miss both of the legs, which are presently set for the weeks of January 8 and January 22.
If United advances to the Champions League knockout stages, he might also be absent because the first leg of their match could take place just two days after the AFCON final.
And as a result, Erik ten Hag will probably have to rely on another recent addition, Altay Bayindir, to fill in for Onana. While David de Gea’s replacement, Onana, cost £47 million to acquire, United only paid £4.3 million to bring Bayindir from Fenerbahce to Old Trafford after Dean Henderson completed a £15 million transfer to Crystal Palace.
Onana is not the only United star set to be absent in the new year due to AFCON, with Sofyan Amrabat’s Morocco also set to feature at the tournament.