According to Eric Djemba-Djemba, a former midfielder for Manchester United and Cameroon, Andre Onana should consider his career when he makes the decision to miss a part of the Premier League season to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
If Onana, the goalkeeper for the Indomitable Lions, decides to travel to Ivory Coast to play for his nation, he could miss over a month of United’s campaign.
The 27-year-old, who briefly announced his retirement from international football in September, but later changed his mind, has come under fire after United’s miserable start to the season that has seen them knocked out of Europe and fall far behind their domestic opponents.
Onana may miss as many as four Premier League games for United depending on how far Cameroon advances in the Afcon, which begins on January 13 and ends on February 11.
“If he goes away for a month to Afcon, even if he plays well over the next month, he knows that he might get fired if he leaves Manchester United,” Djemba-Djemba stated. “He has to decide what is best for him. He just needs to do what is best for his career.”
With six clean sheets in the Premier League this season, Onana leads all goalkeepers in that category. However, since joining United for £47.2 million in July, he has made several high-profile errors, including crucial ones against Galatasaray and Bayern Munich, which helped United finish last in their Champions League group.
Apart from his ability to stop goal shots, Onana brought from Inter Milan a reputation for passing the ball and developing plays, which was supposed to help the Reds alter their approach. However, during what many saw as a regression in the first half of the season, manager Erik Ten Hag’s issues became more complex.
Because Onana plays for a club that isn’t used to having goalkeepers with those instincts, Djemba-Djemba thinks that Onana’s propensity to pass with his feet and advance from his area has put more pressure on him.
“Manchester United is a world-famous club that is widely recognised as one of the best in the world,” continued Djemba-Djemba, who played 39 games for the team under the illustrious leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson after joining in 2003.
Onana’s bold approach will likely be sustained, according to Djemba-Djemba, given his personality and achievements with both Inter and his former club Ajax. But should United’s form improve, he anticipates that United fans will be more receptive to the goalie’s style.
Onana, meanwhile, has started three of Cameroon’s five games since rejoining the national team in September. He announced his retirement shortly after being suspended for “disciplinary reasons” by the football federation of his home country during the 2022 World Cup.
Although Onana has consistently been a part of United, Djemba-Djemba, who won an Afcon with the Indomitable Lions in 2002, says he needs to think carefully before going to the Ivory Coast the following month.