Transfer

Man United now in advanced talks to sign in-demand gem ahead of Arsenal

After Manchester United take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this weekend, goalkeeper Andre Onana will jet off to link-up with the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations. Onana has been given special permission to play against Spurs, even though his nation open their group-stage campaign against Guinea just a day later.

With Onana unavailable for an indeterminate period of time – he could be missing until mid-February, depending on Cameroon’s progress at the tournament – United are likely to turn to Altay Bayindir, the summer signing from Fenerbahce who’s been named on the bench for every single one of their Premier League fixtures so far this season.

At 26, Bayindir is only a year younger than Onana, which would appear to scupper any chance of becoming a starter at Old Trafford in the long term. However, it now looks like Erik ten Hag may be going after a young goalkeeper who will have the chance to be United’s no. 1 in the future.

United in advanced goalkeeper talks

According to Scottish newspaper The Daily Record, United are closing on a deal for Callan McKenna, a 17-year-old who plays for Queen’s Park in his country’s second tier. The Red Devils have reached “advanced talks” over a deal that’s expected to involve a “six-figure” fee while being “loaded” with add-ons. If those clauses are triggered, then Queen’s Park could end up netting in excess of £1m.



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United have apparently been watching McKenna “for some time” and now look set to win the transfer race ahead of Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, who themselves have shown “serious” interest.

McKenna fits Ten Hag profile

Because McKenna is still so young and isn’t playing top-flight football, there’s a limit to what we know about him, but everything you see suggests he’s an extremely promising talent. After spells at Celtic and Hibernian, and a stint training with Leicester, he broke into the first-team at Queen’s Park, and made nine appearances (seven in the league and two in the cup) before he suffered an injury.

His form for his club was so impressive in the early part of the season that he earned a call-up to Scotland’s under-19 side for a friendly against Belgium, and he’ll no doubt have aspirations of becoming his country’s number one at some stage.

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By the looks of it, he’s also pretty confident with his feet too. Writing in a column in August, retired Scottish goalkeeper Rab Douglas commended McKenna on the “confidence” he showed in performing a “Cruyff turn” in his own six-yard box under pressure from an attacker and successfully retaining possession. “It’s clearly been coached into him to play out from the back and trust his ability with the ball at his feet,” Douglas noted.

It’s no surprise that this is the profile of goalkeeper that United’s scouts are after. Ten Hag has tried to instill a philosophy of playing out from the back, with Onana, signed following the departure of David de Gea last summer, ranking fourth in the Premier League for passes attempted this season (690).

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