Man Utd woes worsen with Andre Onana at risk of ‘FIFA ban’
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag could face a lose-lose scenario if he wants to keep Andre Onana during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Onana risks punishment if he snubs Cameroon duty in the new year in favour of attempting to correct his erratic start to life at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old has endured a mixed opening four months to his United career after replacing long-term No 1 David de Gea in the summer.
Onana has improved in the Premier League, helping Ten Hag's side win five of their last six games with three consecutive clean sheets.
But his mistakes have proven costly in the Champions League, leaving United on the brink of a humiliating Group A exit.
He produced two howlers as United fumbled 2-0 and 3-1 leads in Wednesday's 3-3 draw against Galatasaray, a must-win game in a hostile Istanbul.
And with January's AFCON looming large, suggestions that Altay Bayindir could soon overthrow Onana as first-choice goalkeeper have intensified.
He is reportedly reluctant to abandon United midway through the season by accepting a place in Rigobert Song's squad.
Onana was retired from international duty when Ten Hag splashed £47million to sign him in the summer before making a U-turn.
But he could miss up to five games for United if he plays in the international tournament, likely joining Morocco's Sofyan Amrabat and Tunisia's Hannibal Mejbri.
Prioritising his United career over representing Cameroon could come with a price, though, which would be just as much of a blow for Ten Hag.
Onana might be banned from playing for the Red Devils during the period he would've missed if he had travelled to AFCON due to FIFA rules.
The rulebook states: "A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annex, plus an additional period of five days."
An FA Cup fixture could also fall in the schedule between AFCON's January 13 start and February 11 finish.
Either way, Bayindir's United debut is surely on the horizon after months of patience following his £4.3m switch from Fenerbahce.