Friday, October 22, 2021

Transfer News: Arsenal join Barcelona in Andre Onana pursuit

Arsenal are reportedly set to rival Barcelona as well as Inter Milan in the race to sign AFC Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana who will be a free agent in the summer.

According to a report from Transfer Market Web, Arsenal are ready to challenge Barcelona and Inter Milan for the signing of AFC Ajax’s Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana in the summer of 2022.

Onana, a former Barcelona youth academy product, left Catalonia for Amsterdam in the summer of 2015. After a year of serving as an understudy, he became the first-choice custodian for the Dutch giants and held the position until earlier this year when he was hit with a doping ban, which he is still serving.

Despite him not playing since March, Onana had attracted interest in the summer transfer window, mainly from Arsenal, but a move never materialised and he stayed out at Ajax. However, the Cameroonian international will be out of contract with the reigning champions of Eredivisie at the end of the season. This seems to have sparked a flurry of interest in the 25-year-old.

Barcelona, who oversaw Onana’s development at La Masia, have been keeping tabs on the goalkeeper since he left the club and are now interested in re-signing him next year on a free transfer. The Catalans have Marc-Andre ter Stegen as their undisputed first-choice between the posts currently, but his backup, Neto, has been pushing for an exit since the turn of the year.

In case an exit is sanctioned, either in January or in the summer, Barcelona will need to fill the vacancy and with youngster Inaki Pena still lacking the experience at the highest level, they could turn to Onana. However, it now seems like they will have to stave off competition from Arsenal, who are back in the hunt for the signing of the Cameroonian international.

Arsenal strengthened their goalkeeping department this summer with the addition of Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United. In a short time, the Englishman seems to have replaced Bernd Leno as the Gunners’ first-choice custodian. Furthermore, with the latter’s contract expiring in 2023, he has been linked with an exit from the Emirates at the end of the season.

Should the German international depart, Arsenal will need to recruit a top goalkeeper to replace him, making Onana a viable target, more so considering that he will be available on a free transfer. Apart from the two clubs, Inter Milan are also keen on the Ajax shot-stopper as they scour the market for a long-term replacement for ageing club captain Samir Handanovic.

Ajax director of football, Marc Overmars, has confirmed it is unlikely that Onana will sign a new deal and has tipped the goalkeeper for an exit next year. “You never know in football, but the way I see it now, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. It is possible that he will leave in the winter, but that must yield a decent amount. It must go both ways. If the amount is not sufficient, then [he will leave] in July for nothing,” he said.

What now remains to be seen is who among Arsenal, Barcelona and Inter Milan end up signing the 25-year-old.
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