Ones to Watch: Andre Onana

Manchester United - Andre Onana

New signing Andre Onana can be the key to Man United's Season.

Onana's positioning in pre-season friendly

The ultimate modern-day goalkeeper, Andre Onana, is likely to be United's most important summer signing. Throughout Onana's career, he has proven himself to be a great shot-stopper, sweeper-keeper, and commands his box with complete certainty. However, it is his elite distribution that makes him the perfect player for Ten Hag's United. Eric Ten Hag has been gradually implementing his eye-catching, possession-based football at Man United, replacing a more counter-attacking approach seen over the last few seasons. This change has called for a change in the profile of players wanted at United. As seen with the departure of Fred, who had some impressive performances last season, and the reluctance to use players such as Mctomminay in favor of more technical players including Eriksen or Mount. Despite David de Gea's ability to produce miraculous saves, it was becoming increasingly clear his distribution and ability on the ball was not at the level required for Ten Hag's play-style. 

Enter stage: Andre Onana, who is amongst Europe's best goalkeepers in terms of distribution, composure, and ability to receive the ball off defenders and keep possession under pressure. This allows United to play with 11 players when in possession and reduces the effectiveness of the opposition team's presses. Onana's ability to fire accurate long balls seems to be the perfect match for Rashford and United's pacey forward line.

It goes without saying this comes with a risk and Onana's early career is littered with errors leading to goals, however, in recent years the reward greatly outweighs the risk. The need to replace De Gea couldn't be highlighted clearer by the contrasting performances of each goalkeeper in their final game of last season. 

Having reached the Champions League final with Inter Milan, keeping the most clean sheets along the way (8), Onana was arguably Inter's best player in Istanbul. As well as denying Man City and Erling Haaland on multiple occasions, he was composed under City pressure and started numerous attacks with pin-point long balls or chipped balls into midfield.

In stark constant, in De Gea's final game for United, a 2-1 loss in the FA Cup final against rivals City, he made the most inaccurate passes (18) out of any player and would be expected to do better with Gundogan's winning goal. Fans' frustration was evident with groans and sighs after watching chipped balls sail out of play over Luke Shaw's head or long balls stray from their target and back into City possession.

It isn't often fans can say they are excited to watch a goalkeeper, but Onana will have the United faithful off their seats in no time, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he were to get an assist or two this season.


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