Andre Onana: Cameroon keeper committed to Ajax despite heading for exit

2 months ago 377
Andre Onana in action for AjaxAndre Onana's outing against Go Ahead Eagles was his first league appearance for Ajax since 31 January last year

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana insists he will "help the team, if the team needs me" during his remaining time in Amsterdam.

However, the Cameroon goalkeeper has defended his right to choose his own future after making a surprise return to the Ajax line-up on Sunday.

The Indomitable Lions star is set to leave the Johan Cruyff Arena at the end of the season after turning down a new contract.

A finger injury for first-choice keeper Remko Pasveer meant coach Erik ten Haag brought Onana back into the side for Sunday's 2-1 Eredivisie defeat at Go Ahead Eagles.

Onana, 25, is widely expected to join Inter Milan next season, although that move has not been confirmed.

Speaking to Dutch national broadcaster NOSexternal-link after Sunday's loss, he said: "I have done my best for this club, so I think it was important for me to look for a new challenge."

"I think it's my right to sign the contract or not to sign the contract," he added.

"At the end of the day, life is about making choices. I think I did a great job for this club for so many years already and I think that my time is over in Ajax."

Onana's planned departure from Ajax upset many fans and the club's hierarchy, especially after the Dutch giants supported him through a legal fight to get his ban for a doping offence reduced.

He returned to action in November after the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced his ban from 12 to nine months.

The reduction meant Onana was free to help Cameroon to third place at their own Africa Cup of Nations at the beginning of this year.

Onana prepared to step into breach

Andre Onana in action for AjaxOnana has featured just three times for Ajax since returning from his doping ban in November

It is not clear how long Pasveer will be out for, but Ajax face a number of crucial games in the coming weeks.

The reigning Eredivisie champions are only two points ahead of PSV Eindhoven following Sunday's defeat, while they take on AZ Alkmaar in the semi-final of the Dutch Cup on Thursday.

On 15 March, Ajax host Benfica in the second leg of their European Champions League last-16 tie, with the match level at 2-2 on aggregate after the first leg in Portugal.

Onana's outing against Go Ahead Eagles was his first league appearance since 31 January last year - but he says he is ready for whatever is required in his remaining time at Ajax.

"I'm used to playing big games, for me it's nothing new," he told NOS.

"If I have to play, I will play; if I don't have to play, I will support the team as I always do. I'm just here to help the team and if the team needs me, I will be available - because at the end of the day I still have a contract with Ajax."

Ajax have had significant problems with goalkeepers in the past year.

Apart from Onana's ban, veteran Netherlands international Maarten Stekelenburg is out for the rest of the campaign with injury.

But Onana said he knows that ten Haag could turn to younger keepers on the club's books, such as Calvin Raatsie or Charlie Setford to play against AZ.

And he reflected on what he had achieved with Ajax, even with a few months remaining on his deal.

"I am grateful for all of these years but I am also happy for what I have done for this club," he said.

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