Man Utd transfer target Onana got doping ban and told fans he ‘didn’t give a s***’, but was so good Ten Hag forgave him

He failed a drug test, was kicked out of international football and has already fallen out with the boss who wants him.

But Andre Onana is the man Erik ten Hag believes can take Manchester United another step closer to their former success.

Onana is expected to join Man Utd this summer


Onana is expected to join Man Utd this summerPhoto credit: Getty
Ten Hag mentored the goalkeeper during his time at Ajax


Ten Hag mentored the goalkeeper during his time at AjaxPhoto credit: Getty

The summer-long back-and-forth for the Cameroon goalkeeper appears to be coming to an end soon with a £43m compromise for the Inter Milan no.

It’s clear United manager Ten Hag holds no grudges as he wouldn’t go after a goalkeeper who “didn’t give a damn”.

In fact, the reason Dean Henderson was left the door open to return to Old Trafford was because of his lively spirit.

The fact that he was looking to join Nottingham Forest on loan last summer – before Ten Hag saw him – and turned down a return in the New Year apparently annoyed the Dutchman.

But not like this.

ETH admired 26-year-old Henderson’s determination for a place in the Prem’s first-team – which he secured with Forest before a hamstring injury cut short his season in January.

When Ten Hag fell out with Onana at Ajax, all thoughts of long-term damage were dismissed.

It’s more about ability than hostility for Ten Hag, whose United side start their pre-season campaign against Leeds in Oslo tomorrow and new signing Mason Mount is set to make his debut.


When he became Ajax coach in December 2017, Onana was already the first-team goalkeeper – a position he held until February 2021 when he was suspended for a doping offence.

The 6ft 3in tall stopper accidentally took his wife’s medication while looking for aspirin. Made easy.

Ten Hag stayed with him throughout his nine-month suspension – but things still weren’t all rosy. When the manager did find problems with his fitness as mistakes crept into his game – similar to what happened to David de Gea last season – he ruled him out for the Dutch Cup final.

Onana had previously told Ajax fans he “don’t care” as they booed him after a mistake and he was soon to join Inter Milan.

But Ten Hag never forgot his qualities, not least his ability to play from behind.

Ederson’s ability to do just that at Manchester City was a key factor in the success of the Red Devils’ ‘loud neighbours’.

But Onana’s desire to be more than just a goalkeeper did not sit well with his national team boss and led to his resignation from representing Cameroon.

During last year’s World Cup in Qatar, he was sent home by coach Rigobert Song for his risky distribution in the opening Group G 1-0 defeat by Switzerland.

Onana vowed never to play for his country again.

Onana was sent home from the World Cup last year after falling out with Cameroon coach Rigobert Song


Onana was sent home from the World Cup last year after falling out with Cameroon coach Rigobert SongPhoto credit: Getty

Still, it was a man who helped Inter to their Champions League final against City last month.

And Ten Hag believes he can lead United to similar heights after De Gea became a free agent when his contract expired.

Henderson is back in Manchester as he continues his recovery from injury. Therefore, 37-year-old Tom Heaton will start in Norway with 23-year-old newcomers Nathan Bishop and Matej Kovar as substitutes.

Ten Hag has previously described Onana as a “masterful goalkeeper”. United have always had them. From Munich disaster survivor Harry Gregg to 1968 European Cup winner Alex Stepney.

Peter Schmeichel was the dominant figure during the club’s greatest period of dominance until he left the club in 1999 after the historic treble.

Edwin van der Sar followed in June 2005 and it was amazing United didn’t try to bring him in sooner as they were juggling with the goalkeepers.

His save against Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka on penalties in the 2008 European Cup final is an image that will live on in the club’s history.

De Gea – a great goalkeeper – spent 12 years in goal during a very flat period in United’s history when they only lifted one Prem title.

However, the arrival of Pep Guardiola in English football has changed things.

Goalies are now sweepers. Targets begin by moving from their feet. Safety on the back stops the high pressure.

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Ten Hag knows he needs someone to fill that role. This man is Onana.

Now United just have to agree on a price to snap him up from Inter.

Man United are yet to agree a deal with Inter Milan for Onana


Man United are yet to agree a deal with Inter Milan for OnanaPhoto credit: Getty

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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