It’s official – Odion Jude Ighalo’s loan deal has been extended and the first Nigerian ever to play for Manchester United will stay until January 2021, at the very least.
The 30-year old was originally set to spend six months with the Reds, patching up the hole left by the injured Marcus Rashford. However, nobody could have predicted how well he would go on to perform, right from the off.
In just three starts and a few appearances off the bench, Ighalo notched four goals and an assist, equating to a direct involvement in a goal every 63.8 minutes. Whilst many fans, myself included, might have doubted how much he could bring to the team, it is clear that he has given everything for the shirt and his form has looked just as, if not more impressive than even his best seasons at Watford.
Option to Buy
Furthermore, the highly reliable Fabrizio ‘Here we go!’ Romano has also stated that whilst it was previously thought that United were reluctant towards a permanent deal, there is now an option to buy included in the extension. If he makes even half the impact he did in just eight appearances since arriving, it’s likely to be a no-brainer, as the forward has quickly gone down as a cult hero with fans.
Nevertheless, it’s sure to be a classic case of ‘head or heart?’ when it comes to crunch time, as although Ighalo has made no secret that his move to the team he has supported since he was a child has been a dream come true, Shanghai Shenua are rumoured to be offering him a contract until 2024, worth up to £400k a week.
Head or Heart?
Whilst many might think it sensible for a player of his age to see out his career in China, especially with such a great deal on the table, United seem increasingly happy to keep him a part of squad, despite the return of senior figures and the possibility of new forward signings. Let’s not forget, it wasn’t long ago that a source stated Ighalo ‘would play for free’ and this isn’t FIFA: 30 isn’t that old and with the right motivation, he could still have plenty of playing time left at a high level.
Either way, I don’t think many fans would say no to keeping him as a rotation player in the wider squad. He has already proven himself a more than effective option in the Europa League; his strength and ability to hold up the ball – not to mention an impressive amount of close control – would make him the perfect, old-school number nine to boss lesser defences in the domestic cups, let alone come off the bench in a pinch. I say, if he’s happy to stay, we’re happy to have him.
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