Arsenal are reportedly the main contenders to sign Andre Onana from Ajax, although they may have to wait until 2022 to see him in action if they get the deal over the line.
The goalkeeper position is an area of concern for Arsenal ahead of the summer transfer window. Bernd Leno struggled for consistency in the number one role in 2020-21, while Runar Alex Runarsson disappointed as his backup. It prompted them to sign Mat Ryan on loan in January and that deal could be made permanent.
Should that go through, they will be guaranteed to have a reliable reserve option. However, they may still consider upgrading their first choice.
But perhaps a more realistic option would be Onana – especially given how inviting his price tag is.
According to NOS, Arsenal have “the best credentials” in the race to sign Onana. He is out of contract in 2022 and a departure from Ajax is “almost certain”.
The main reason behind this is because he is currently serving a doping ban. He has been suspended since February after he was found to have taken a banned substance.
Onana denies he did so intentionally, instead claiming it was in his wife’s medicine. He has appealed the ban – which is due to last until February 2022 – and will learn the outcome on Wednesday.
The Cameroon international could either see the ban upheld, shortened or overturned. Even though he did not mean to take the substance, it is unlikely he will be acquitted, meaning the best he can hope for is a shorter ban.
Whichever way the case goes, Ajax will still look to sell due to his contractual situation. With that in mind, Arsenal could make their move.
Onana a bargain
Since they are “not satisfied” with Leno, Onana would be a good addition if he can recover the levels he was showing before his ban. He has been Ajax’s first-choice keeper ever since 2016 and, having previously come through the ranks at Barcelona, is held in high regard.
Arsenal are likely to beat fellow suitors Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain to Onana because they can guarantee him a first-choice role as soon as he is ready to play again.
And they should be able to land him for a bargain price. If his ban is upheld, Ajax will only ask for €2m, which would still see them make a profit. If the ban is reduced, the Dutch champions will still only ask for somewhere between €6m and €9m.
At the age of 25, he has plenty of his career still ahead of him and therefore seems like great value for money – even if Arsenal will have to wait to see that come into fruition.