Covid, kicks and a rejected loan – how Manchester United settled on Andre Onana as their new No.1

You can hardly blame Dean Henderson for ruining his luck. In a parallel universe, Manchester United allow him to join Ajax on loan, he trains and plays under Erik ten Hag for five months, Ten Hag is chosen as the next permanent United manager, and he installs Henderson as No.1.

With Ten Hag as his actual manager at United, Henderson’s chances of achieving No.1 status have gradually diminished. Now they are anything but over.

Ajax approached United twice about taking Henderson on loan while Ten Hag was in charge. Edwin van der Sar, then managing director of Ajax, was a vocal admirer of Henderson and first touched base at the start of the 2020-21 season.

Henderson’s representatives were sounded by Ajax again ahead of the January 2022 transfer window, with Andre Onana serving a nine-month doping suspension and running out of contract.

Read also: United move closer to the Onana deal

Eighteen months later, Onana arrives and Henderson goes to Ten Hags United. Ferris Bueller put it perfectly: “Life moves pretty fast.”

After Ajax was a no-go, United beat back inquiries from Newcastle and Watford to loan Henderson. Henderson played just once more under Ralf Rangnick – in the first game in February – and felt so opposed that he skipped the first training sessions under Ten Hag.

Newcastle called again for Henderson but lost their nerve against United for a second time, having tried to recruit Jesse Lingard earlier this year. Burnley were relegated and Nick Pope was available on a permanent basis, so Newcastle moved out for Pope.

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