Barcelona is being tipped to swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana who is set to leave the Dutch champions in 2022 when his contract at the Dutch club expires.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano told CBS Sports that Onana is “being closely followed by Barcelona” but is also wanted at Serie A side Inter to replace 37-year-old stopper Samir Handanovic.
Yet Barca may hold the upper hand in the race for the 26-year-old signature. Onana joined the club’s famous La Masia academy from Samuel Eto’o’s Foundation in Cameroon and spent five years with the Catalan giants before signing for Ajax in 2015.
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Onana Admits He’d Love Barcelona Return
Onana has already admitted he would love to return to the Camp Nou at some point in the future. He told Canal+ Afrique that he still views Barcelona as his home and wouldn’t hesitate to return if offered the chance, as reported by Goal.
“It’s hard to say because with FC Barcelona, I am still in very good relations with the president, the coaches,” he said. “As I said earlier, Barca is my home. If I have to go back, I will go back. But today we are still far from it. I’m the Ajax goalkeeper and we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”
If Onana were to return to Barcelona he would likely replace Neto as Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s back-up. The Brazilian asked to leave in January 2021 and was also linked with a summer exit but a move failed to materialize.
Barca also has some impressive young goalkeepers on the books. Inaki Pena only turned 22 in March but is part of the first-team squad for 2021-22, while 20-year-old reserve stopper Arnau Tenas also looks to have a bright future ahead of him.
Onana Still Serving Ban
Onana is currently serving a suspension for a doping violation. The goalkeeper was initially banned by UEFA in February 2021 for a year after he failed an out-of-competition drugs test when the banned substance furosemide was found in his urine sample.
The goalkeeper’s ban was subsequently reduced to nine months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in June. Onana had asked for the ban to be overturned after explaining he had accidentally taken the substance after mistaking his wife’s medicine for aspirin.
The CAS said in a statement that, “[the] Panel found that no ‘significant fault’ could be attributed to André Onana who had ingested medication destined for another person in error.”
Onana was permitted to return to first-team training at Ajax in September ahead of his ban ending on November 4, 2021. However, director of football affairs Marc Overmars has warned the goalkeeper he faces a battle for playing time, as reported by the club’s website.
“We have decided that Andre will start goalkeeper training and team training sessions with Jong Ajax. The question, for now, is whether he will earn a spot with the first team in the long term,” he said. “We have now moved on without him and have recruited two keepers during his suspension. Both an experienced and a talented one, the latter being one with an eye on the future. The team has already started the season and is in the process of teambuilding.”