Mail Sport can exclusively reveal that Manchester United are hoping to have Andre Onana in goal for the game against Tottenham at Old Trafford on January 14 – even though Cameroon kick off their Africa Cup of Nations campaign just 24 hours later.
Premier League clubs were obliged to release their players for AFCON duty on January 1, but Onana will be available for Monday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Wigan.
However, Confidential can reveal that United want to keep him even longer and are in talks with Cameroon over Onana playing in the game against Spurs a week on Sunday, which starts at 4.30pm.
The 27-year-old would then have to take a seven-hour flight to Ivory Coast where Cameroon meet Guinea in their Group C opener at 5pm on Monday 15.
Cameroon’s final group game against Gambia is on January 23. If Rigobert Song’s side are eliminated, Onana could feasibly be back for the fourth round of the FA Cup – assuming United beat Wigan – which means he wouldn’t have missed any games at all.
Man United hope to have Andre Onana (left) available until they play Tottenham on January 14
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If Cameroon go all the way to the final on February 11, United’s £47.2m summer signing could be absent for up to four matches.
Although Onana has concerns over losing his place at United to No 2 Altay Bayindir, he had no option but to answer his country’s call-up under FIFA rules.
Despite coming out of international retirement in September, there are still thought to be issues with Cameroon football federation president Samuel Eto’o dating back to Onana’s expulsion from his country’s World Cup camp in November 2022.
He has been called up for Cameroon’s AFCON campaign and was obliged to go as of Monday
Moyes unsure over calendar boy Sancho
Jadon Sancho is an unlikely choice for United’s new official 2024 calendar, although it will come as no surprise that he makes an early appearance in January.
United are desperate to offload Sancho in this transfer window following a fall-out with manager Erik ten Hag that has left the £73m misfit training on his own at Carrington for the last four months.
United sources say ‘multiple clubs’ are monitoring Sancho’s situation and that’s understood to include West Ham. However, it’s understood that David Moyes is reluctant to take the 23-year-old on loan until the end of the season, and the player’s £250,000-a-week wages would also be a stumbling block.
Sancho has been linked with his former club Borussia Dortmund and Juventus. Al-Ettifaq made an unsuccessful loan bid on deadline day in the summer, but it’s anticipated that Saudi clubs will be less active in the January window.
It seems that Sancho’s only hope of staying at United is if the club sack Ten Hag following a poor start to the season and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos team taking over football operations.
Meanwhile, Raphael Varane makes an appearance on the calendar in May even though he could also leave this month or in the summer after United decided not to trigger the 12-month extension in his contract.
West Ham are among Jadon Sancho’s suitors – but Hammers boss David Moyes has his doubts
The outcast was banished to train with the academy teams by Erik ten Hag in September
Hannibal loan on hold for now
Although United would have been happy to see Sancho follow Donny van de Beek out of Old Trafford on the first day of the January transfer window, the club are taking their time over other loan deals this month.
Confidential understands that manager Erik ten Hag is keen to make sure other players are fit before sanctioning any more departures, with Van de Beek, Hannibal Mejbri and Dan Gore having been on the bench in recent games.
Casemiro and Mason Mount are due back from long injury-layoffs this month but any loan moves for Mejbri are on hold for now despite the Tunisia midfielder pulling out of AFCON to sort out his future.
Gore could also spend the second half of the season away from United, although sources have played down speculation linking him with Dortmund.
A mooted loan at Championship club Preston North End is now unlikely to happen, and there is a better chance of Gore going to League One where he would be guaranteed more playing time.
Van de Beek is hoping to revive his career at Eintracht Frankfurt, while Alvaro Fernandez’s loan at Granada has gone so well since the summer that he is attracting interest from Benfica.
Any loan exit for Hannibal Mejbri (top) is currently on hold due to United’s current injury issues
Donny van de Beek gets the chance to resurrect his career on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt
Earps edges closer to Utd exit
Mary Earps has new representation ahead of what could be a huge January transfer window. The United and England goalkeeper has joined A&V Sports after parting ways with Ignite Talent towards the end of last year.
It is no secret that Earps was disappointed not to get a move to Arsenal in the summer, and with six months left on her United contract there is no sign of her penning a new deal.
A&V Sports work with some of the biggest names in women’s football including Sam Kerr and Ada Hegerberg. They also represent United’s back-up goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce, who joined the club at the end of the summer transfer window.
Earps, who was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year last month, is now free to speak with clubs outside of the Women’s Super League and there is said to be strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
It’s understood that Arsenal are not looking at making another bid for Earps in this window, but could sign her on a free contract at the end of the season if she remains with United for the rest of the campaign.
Mary Earps seems destined to leave Man United Women either this window or in the summer
Ticket row over Wigan cup clash
United have become embroiled in a ticketing row with Wigan over the League One club’s attempt to cash in on the visit of Erik ten Hag’s side in the FA Cup third round next week.
Confidential understands the club were surprised and frustrated by the Latics selling £180 hospitality packages for United supporters in the away end at the DW Stadium, with away tickets typically sold and distributed by the visiting team.
Officials raised safety and security concerns with Wigan, who then issued an ultimatum to United that they either sell the hospitality tickets themselves or the 243 seats, priced at six times the value of normal tickets, would be removed from their allocation.
Sources say United reluctantly agreed but the hospitality – which includes a two-course hot buffet but only offers a paid bar – has not yet sold out with less than a week until the January 8 clash. All proceeds from the sales will go to Wigan.
Bruno spreads Christmas cheer
United captain Bruno Fernandes handed out Christmas presents to United staff on behalf of the players.
Sources were reluctant to say what staff received from the players other than it was a ‘significant gift’, but added that it was a token of appreciation for the jobs they do on considerably lower salaries, which often involve working unsociable hours and sacrificing family time.
A nice gesture too from the club’s academy head Nick Cox who wrote to all the fans who follow the club’s youth teams, thanking them personally for their support in 2023.
‘The interest that our fans have in youth development is one of the reasons that makes this club so special. It’s what makes us different,’ wrote Cox.
‘Everyone in the academy recognises your support, we know that many of you attend as many games as you can. It never goes unnoticed, particularly when the games are at distant locations or unsociable times, the impact of your support is immeasurable.’
Bruno Fernandes handed out Christmas presents to United staff on behalf of the United squad
Brother’s Old Trafford pilgrimage
The brother of lifelong United fan Christian Smith, who sadly passed away last month at the age of 46, is walking his ashes from their hometown of Denbigh to Old Trafford to raise money for mental health charity MIND.
Neal Smith has set up a justgiving page ahead of the two-day walk on January 19 before he lays Chistian to rest in St Asaph.
‘He was the biggest Manchester United fan we’d ever known, never missing a game on TV,’ says Neal. ‘Through his life, Chris endured difficulties with mental health which meant his dream of watching a live match in person could never be a reality for him.
‘I will be raising money for MIND who do fantastic work with mental health sufferers across the UK.’