After an argument with Rigobert Song, Andre Onana has rejoined the Cameroon team, although his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations is not yet certain.
When the topic of Andre Onana’s return to international football was brought up during Erik ten Hag’s news conference prior to the team’s trip to Arsenal last week, his facial expression and body language spoke louder than his words.
At that point, Onana had been named to the Cameroon team for the upcoming international break, though a cryptic message he had posted on his Instagram account had not exactly indicated whether he would be joining the team again, 10 months after being banned by the Cameroonian Football Federation following a disagreement with coach Rigobert Song midway through the World Cup.
Even though Ten Hag tried to play the diplomat during a hectic deadline press conference, the query regarding Onana didn’t get much attention. Ten Hag didn’t appear or sound particularly excited about the notion. He asserted that he was aware of “everything about” the problem and that “we spoke about the circumstance before we signed him and we would be in good contact with Andre [on] how to handle the situation.
Ten Hag reiterated his claim that he was in “good contact with Andre” when asked if the goalkeeper might now play for Cameroon once more. We are on the same page, he continued. We need to discuss it first before deciding anything.
What went wrong for Van de Beek was a broken promise and Solskjaer’s doubt.
Onana, 27, is expected to earn his 35th cap for his nation in a Tuesday AFCON qualifier against Burundi, which strongly suggests that Ten Hag may have been trying to persuade him to stay retired from international football.
The Indomitable Lions’ participation in the competition will be ensured by victory, but it has been claimed that Onana’s intention to come out of retirement may not hold true for the competition in the Ivory Coast in January. His announcement earlier this week that he was returning from exile stated that his “commitment to Cameroon remains unwavering,” but it also alluded to some of the difficulties he has recently faced.
“Decisive moments occur, demanding crucial decisions, in the world of football as well as in life,” he remarked. “In recent months, I have encountered trials that were unfair and deceptive. My steadfast affection for and loyalty to my own Cameroon, however, endure.
Since I was young, my passion to serve my nation has not wavered, and it continues to be an integral part of who I am. This belief is unshakeable by anything or anyon
“I respond to the call of my country with unshakeable certainty, aware that my return is not only to honor my dream but also to respond to the support of the Cameroonians, who deserve a national team determined to shine,” the Cameroonian player said.
If Cameroon does get a spot in the AFCON for next year, a decision will need to be made regarding how much “injustice and manipulation” he plainly feels is worth sacrificing in order to represent his country. Ten Hag will undoubtedly wish Onana would choose to remain at Old Trafford.
However, he might miss seven games for United, including four in the Premier League, against Tottenham, Wolves, West Ham, and Aston Villa, if he participates in the competition. Both the Carabao Cup semifinals and the fourth round of the FA Cup will take place throughout the competition.
In the last days of the transfer window, United was forced to sell Dean Henderson and replace him with 25-year-old Altay Bayindir, a €5 million acquisition from Fenerbahce. However, Bayindir has never played outside of Turkey and has recently struggled with injuries, having back surgery in April and shoulder surgery towards the end of 2021. Before agreeing to the agreement, United sent medical personnel to Greece to examine his back on their own.
When Onana is not present, Bayindir or Tom Heaton, 37, will fill in. However, neither can match United’s No. 1’s innate talent behind a high line or comfort with the ball at their feet.
Both players will have chances to play before the AFCON starts, starting with Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup third round later this month, but those trials are becoming more crucial now that January might be a deciding month.