David De Gea’s departure has left Manchester United needing a new goalkeeper, which they seem to have found in Andre Onana. With that being said, the Inter Milan hero isn’t the only one they’re currently seeking to sign – as the club scouts seem to have identified a mystery young sensation in Zion Suzuki.
The Red Devils appear to have searched the Asian football market and found a possible hidden gem. Suzuki isn’t being scouted as their no.1 goalkeeper or a replacement for De Gea. Instead, he’s being eyed up to help bring a revolution to their goalkeeping department.
Who is Zion Suzuki?
With Dean Henderson likely to leave too and a 38-year-old Tom Heaton in his last legs, Erik ten Hag wants a vibrant young goalkeeper core. The gaffer is well aware of Onana’s strengths, having worked with him at Ajax. But he’s also pursuing the signing of the Urawa Reds goalkeeper.
Suzuki is a Japanese goalkeeper who was born in the USA. His mother is Japanese and father of Ghanaian descent. He’s been associated with the Japanese club Urawa Reds since he was just seven. Suzuki also made history for the club by becoming the youngest player to sign a professional contract with the club in their history at the age of just 16 years and five months.
The 20-year-old has been prominently featured for Japan’s top division club in recent campaigns. His heroics in the 2022/23 season particularly caught the attention of the Red Devils. Suzuki mostly featured in the Japanese League Cup for the Urawa Reds – keeping two clean sheets in five appearances and only conceding three goals.
In 28 overall appearances for his side, he’s kept 11 clean sheets and conceded 25 goals. In his five outings last season, the 20-year-old averaged 1.8 saves per game. It must be noted that the Urawa Reds are one of Japan’s strongest clubs – so he did have a solid backline ahead of him.
Suzuki has averaged a 79 save percentage in his eight J-League appearances in his career. He’s played at various youth levels for Japan, featuring them in the U-20 World Cup in 2019. The 20-year-old is a current member of their U-21 team, but also made his debut for the senior team too.
Why Zion Suzuki attracts Erik ten Hag’s attention
One of the 20-year-old’s most prominent traits, however, is his ability to play out from the back. He loves to take control of moving the ball out of his half into the opposition area. Suzuki thrives at short passes with pinpoint accuracy as well as accurate long balls too. He loves to act as a ‘sweeper keeper’ and often leaves his box to defuse trouble.
While Suzuki is a solid shot-stopper too, it’s probably his impressive distribution ability and fearlessness that caught the eye of Ten Hag. The Dutch gaffer ruthlessness cut De Gea from his team because of the Spaniard’s inefficiency in those areas of his game. As per reports, United might only need to spend around £5 million to sign him.
It could be a risk because Suzuki has never played club-level football outside of Japan and is a stranger to competitiveness in Europe. With that being said, knowing the 20-year-old’s potential and playing style – he is an ideal candidate for Ten Hag to personally mould into a solid backup for Onana.