Arsenal’s first signing of the summer transfer window might be Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, various sources report, despite the 12-month ban he was handed this February.

AMSTERDAM - 28-01-2021, Ajax keeper Andre Onana during the match between Ajax and Willem II. Copyright: Imago Images
AMSTERDAM – 28-01-2021, Ajax keeper Andre Onana during the match between Ajax and Willem II. Copyright: Imago Images

The Gunners may want him to replace Bernd Leno who, after a disappointing second half of the season, has repeatedly expressed his intentions to move on to “another adventure” this summer.

Onana moved to Ajax from Barcelona in 2015, first as a keeper for the youth team, then playing with the first team. In time, everyone from Vwin88 to ESPN grew to know his name – the 25-year-old Cameroonian established himself as the Dutch team’s number one goalkeeper in the 2016-2017 season.

Controversy and appeal

This February, Andre Onana received a 12-month ban from playing. The reason: he tested positive for a banned substance, furosemide – a diuretic – on October 30 last year. As you might expect, both Ajax and Onana himself appealed the decision.

On the one hand, Ajax took the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), claiming that the keeper took the medicine accidentally – furosemide was prescribed for his wife. On the other hand, the Dutch Association of Professional Footballers has condemned the ban, calling it “disproportionate” and “incomprehensible” in a statement. The Dutch players’ union considers the one-year ban to be far too long, a decision that can seriously impact the professional career of any player.

The hearing of the arbitration court is due on June 2nd. According to Ajax’s lawyers, the two parties’ view on the facts is the same – the issue is the length of the ban itself. Sports law lawyer Dolf Segaar, representing the player, says that he doesn’t expect the ban to be lifted but he hopes for a reduction.

A bargain?

Dutch portal NOS treats Onana’s move to Arsenal as the most likely scenario, even if the ban remains in place. At the same time, it also considers Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain likely contenders – although they do point out that, after Leno’s disappointing performance, the Gunners are the most likely destination for the 25-year-old.

NOS expects the transfer to be completed “pretty quickly” as soon as the outcome of the appeal at CAS is known – and considers it likely that, depending on the verdict, the player’s transfer fee may also change. If the sentence is shortened, they write, Onana will be worth between 6 and 9 million euros (£5.2 to £7.8 million), while if the penalty remains unchanged, it could decrease to 2 million euros (around £1.7 million).