Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana returned to first-team training on Thursday with his club Ajax, despite having seemingly played his last game for the Dutch giants.
Ajax say the move comes after veteran keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was ruled out for the rest of the season with injury.
Contract talks between Onana, 25, and Ajax broke down in September and he appeared set to leave at the end of the season.
“Ajax’s needs are paramount,” sporting director Marc Overmars told the club website when explaining the apparent change of heart.
Onana has missed almost the whole of 2021 after being banned for a doping violation by Uefa, but is free to play again from 4 November.
Ajax supported him in appealing the ban and Onana’s suspension was subsequently reduced to nine months.
But he was then placed in the junior squad after his ban on training was lifted on 4 September as relations with the Eredivisie club strained.
The injury to former Fulham and Everton keeper Stekelenburg, 39, has now paved the way for Onana – linked with a move to the Premier League next year – to return.
Andre Onana resumes first team training.
As of today, Andre Onana will begin training with the Ajax first team again. The goalkeeper was allowed to resume his training activities at Ajax from the beginning of September, but he has been training with Ajax U21 since that time.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) October 28, 2021
Coach Erik ten Hag said the Cameroonian had been training “with full dedication” and that the keeper would provide depth to the first-team squad in the absence of Stekelenburg.
The chances of Onana – whose playing ban ends on 4 November – starting a game for Ajax in the near future seem slim, with Remko Pasveer in fine form in recent weeks after stepping into Stekelenburg’s position.
The Amsterdam club also signed Jay Gorter from Go Ahead Eagles in the off-season.
Cameroon fans will be relieved to see Onana a step closer to possible first-team action, with the hosts preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on 9 January.