Zion Suzuki’s decision to turn down a summer move to Manchester United looks more and more shrewd by the minute as Altay Bayindir continues to struggle for first-team minutes.
Following the big-money arrival of Andre Onana, Erik ten Hag is said to have considered a host of candidates for the role of United’s backup goalkeeper.
Dinamo Zagreb’s Dominik Livakovic was shortlisted, according to a report fromThe Metro, as was Feyenoord’s number one Justin Bijlow and Japan international Zion Suzuki.
It was suggested in July that United were close to completing a move for the Urawa Reds shot-stopper, who has been described as “a leader among the next generation of Japanese goalkeepers.”
Japanese outletSponichi Annexsaid negotiations between both clubs had been “progressing smoothly” and an agreement was “imminent”.
But the same publication later reported that a deal would no longer happen, despite the player being “shaken” by United’s approach.
So why did he reject a move? With the Paris Olympics coming up this summer, Suzuki reported prioritised game time at the Tokyo-based club over a move to Old Trafford, where regular first-team minutes would have been hard to come by.
Eventually, after a lengthy search for a back-up goalkeeper, United would make a £4.3 million move for Altay Bayindir.
Bayindir, who made over 100 appearances for Fenerbache, has since been involved in matchday squads but the Turkey international has yet to play a single minute of first-team football under Erik ten Hag.
It remains to be seen as to whether Bayindir will feature for United in the coming weeks as Andre Onana gets ready to play for Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations, but Suzuki’s risky decision appears to have paid off.
A smart move by Zion Suzuki
He would have faced same fate as bayindr https://t.co/iJGteIZSFT
— UTDBlak (@UTDBlak) January 8, 2024
The 21-year-old would instead join Belgian side Sint-Truiden – who are owned by Japan-based electronic firm DMM – on a season-long loan deal.
Speaking after the move was agreed in August, Suzuki confirmed that Onana’s position as number one would have made it difficult to get playing time at United.
He said: “It’s true that there was an offer from Manchester United. As a football player and as a person, if I hadn’t thought about anything, of course I would like to go to Manchester United.
“But among them, I really want to spend time thinking about what kind of future awaits me. After much thought, I made this decision.
“Manchester United have acquired Onana. It’s important for me to participate in matches, and I think it is also important to play on the world stage. I want to make the most of what I have learned here and do my best.”