(Image credit: Getty Images)
Manchester United will be missing two key summer signings in the new year following recent international results, meaning Erik ten Hag will have no choice but to shuffle his preferred starting XI.
On Tuesday night, Cameroon qualified for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations by beating Burundi 3-0, ensuring they topped their qualifying group ahead of the tournament in Ivory Coast. Morocco, meanwhile, had already confirmed their spot at AFCON back in March.
That’s bad news for Manchester United, however, who will therefore be without Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana and Moroccan midfielder Sofyan Amrabat for at least a couple of weeks in January, with AFCON running from January 13 until February 11 next year.
Onana and Amrabat will both head to AFCON with their countries (Image credit: Getty Images)
Onana started in the victory over Burundi upon his recall to the national team, just eight months after manager Rigobert Song sent him home from World Cup 2022 due to Onana’s criticism of Song’s long-ball tactics. The goalkeeper announced his retirement from international football in December 2022, but has since reneged on that decision after reconciling with Song.
Depending on each nation’s progress in AFCON, the pair could potentially miss up to nine games in total for Manchester United. Four Premier League games, against Tottenham Hotspur, Wolves, West Ham United and Aston Villa, are scheduled during the course of the tournament, while both legs of the League Cup semi-finals – if United reach that round – as well as the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cups fall within AFCON.
The first leg of the Champions League last 16 is also played just two days after the AFCON final, meaning it’s unlikely either Onana or Amrabat would play if their country reaches that stage.
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Ten Hag will therefore need to turn his attention to new signing Altay Bayindir to replace Onana for those missed games, with the Turkish goalkeeper signed for £4.3m from Fenerbahce on deadline day.
The 25-year-old has played five times for his country, but is a slightly more traditional goalkeeper than Onana. While Onana loves to play with the ball at his feet, Bayindir is more comfortable and shot-stopping. He is forthright in his actions, though, and is confident at coming off of his line to claim crosses or close down the space for onrushing strikers.
Amrabat, meanwhile, will have Casemiro and Scott McTominay playing in midfield instead of him.
Onana has transformed the way Manchester United play this season (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture’s websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.
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