The agreement that will lead André Onana to become the new Inter goalkeeper from the 2022/2023 season is one of the most particular deals of the last year.
Because now everything is ready, the Cameroonian returned from a doping ban (which particularly hurt him given the way he was accused) will leave Ajax in the summer because Inter have long identified him as the ideal goalkeeper for present and future.
First important detail: the club decided not to negotiate with Ajax to have Onana immediately in January because Samir Handanovic's performances so far have been very satisfactory, he is the captain and therefore there is no desire to disturb the locker room with a change. so important in such a delicate role.
But from June, the new era will begin with Onana as goalkeeper. How did this deal come about? What are the secrets?
Inter have already identified André Onana as an incredible opportunity since last July 2021. The player was banned until November 2021, so the club board began to inquire about his situation.
The direction was by Giuseppe Marotta, CEO of the club who has been doing an extraordinary job for years, together with the intuition of Piero Ausilio, sports director who has always maintained good relations with the agency that also looks after the interests of Onana, as well as other footballers.
Obviously no signing on contracts, the regulation is important; but an interest that gave rise to the desire to buy Onana for 2022. From there the road that led the Cameroonian to Milan was born.
But the deal wasn't easy. Because many clubs have tried to overtake Inter using the advance strategy: OGC Nice made an important proposal for André Onana in the summer of 2021, with the idea of buying him immediately without having to wait a year.
Immediately afterwards, Arsenal took information to understand the costs of the deal with Ajax but the Gunners needed a goalkeeper immediately and withdrew after the confirmation of the ban, so they chose to buy Aaron Ramsdale. Otherwise Onana could become a very serious option for Mikel Arteta.
And Inter? They played their cards at the right time: a four-year contract, a verbal agreement built by the director Ausilio who has already convinced another free agent like Hakan Calhanoglu to sign for his club last summer, today among the best midfielders in the Serie At 2021/2022.
This free agent trend has become a winner for Inter who wanted André Onana at all costs. The player appreciated this desire to make him the goalkeeper of the future: Handanovic is still respected and appreciated in the club, but he will turn 38 next July and then the goalkeeper becomes a very important topic for Inter.
And what about Barcelona? In recent days the situation has become interesting because Onana in an interview with the Catalan newspaper Sport declared that "Barça will always be my first choice".
In reality, these words have been denied by those close to the player: André has great respect for Barcelona who were his first club but he never thought of betraying the agreement with Inter.
Barça's only approach came at the end of August, with an already very clear answer: Onana was expecting Inter as his priority.
Nothing has changed with Xavi, also because Marc-André ter Stegen is still considered a fundamental player for the Barcelona of the future and Xavi himself intends to keep him in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Onana is understood to be excited for this experience in Italy, he has already started looking for a house in Milan and will be authorized to officially sign his contract.
He will arrive in Italy next June because in the meantime he will conclude the season with Ajax, Erik ten Hag has given him another chance recently in the Champions League but his future is sure and he will be called Inter.
In his contract will be included add ons in case of victories in competitions with the team. And this new challenge of a Cameroonian goalkeeper in Italy can begin: André Onana and Inter, together.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 9th January 2022