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Reports: Manchester United’s Stance On Odion Ighalo

Manchester United are ‘reluctant’ to sign Odion Ighalo on a permanent basis, according to ESPN.

The Nigerian’s future has been heavily speculated over the past week, as Shanghai Shenhua want him back in time for the Chinese Super League. Their domestic campaign is scheduled to start in July, a time-frame in which the Premier League will not be completed by.

Ighalo’s loan is set to expire on May 31st, but the Red Devils are keen to extend the deal to keep the forward at the club to see out their remaining fixtures (with the hope that the campaign will be restarted). Although official discussions are yet to take place, ESPN report that Shenhua may not be tempted by a new loan fee.

Instead, the Chinese club have set an asking price of around £20m for the Nigerian. Given that Igahlo is set to turn thirty-one next month, such a demand is likely to be brushed aside by United, particularly given the added context of these economically challenging times.

As per the above report, this does seem to be the club’s mindset, due to their ‘reluctance’ to make the signing permanent. Particularly given Marcus Rashford’s return from injury, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may want to invest their ‘restricted’ finances elsewhere.

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Opinion: The Odion Ighalo Predicament

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Not many could quite the believe the sight on January 31st – Odion Ighalo standing there with the Manchester United jersey in hand.

The Nigerian had become a familiar name amongst Premier League fans following his three years at Watford, before then departing for China back in 2017. Like many who make the shift over to East Asia, Ighalo became a forgotten man in Europe, despite maintaining an impressive goalscoring record.

READ MORE: Jadon Sancho Transfer Remains On

This all quickly changed though, when United moved in the final hours of transfer deadline day to secure the loan signing. The forward was brought in as emergency cover to Marcus Rashford, due to fears of the latter missing the remainder of the season after suffering a double back stress fracture.

Ighalo has done more than merely make up the numbers though, scoring four goals in his first three starts. After such a prolific start to life in Manchester though, why the hesitancy to make the switch permanent?

Youth, courage success were the three words marketed by United last summer, and unfortunately, Ighalo only ticks two of these boxes. The Nigerian is set to turn thirty-one in June, with his profile not exactly fitting the blueprint of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s signings so far.

The Evening Standard reported earlier in the month that the club were working through a shortlist of strikers this summer, with all of the reported targets being under the age of twenty-four. Recruiting younger talents has been the way forward under the Norwegian, who wants to implant a new fresh core to the squad.

READ MORE: Predicting Manchester United’s 20/21 Midfield Trio

Names like Erling Haaland, Timo Werner and Moussa Dembele have been cited, but one has to question whether such players will be attainable this year. Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish remain the priority targets (via MEN) for Solskjaer, thus placing heavy doubt over the club’s ability to secure three pedigree names, in one window.

Ed Woodward has recently suggested that big money signings should not be expected this summer, due to the lack of projected revenue that clubs have been struck with. Whilst it seems that a younger forward would be the preference, United may find that a permanent deal for Ighalo would be the most pragmatic option available.

Anthony Martial will no doubt re-occupy the starting role next season, but the Nigerian would provide good depth, without haltering the ever-promising Mason Greenwood. The latter has impressed this campaign, but the club are hesitant to place too much responsibility on the 18-year-old’s shoulders.

Ighalo’s experience has been beneficial for United, as his hold-up play offers the side a different dimension to their attack. £15m is the reported fee (via Daily Mail) necessary to make the loanee a permanent figure in the dressing room, a fair price tag given what the club could get from his services.

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Odion Ighalo’s Manchester United Future In Doubt

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Odion Ighalo’s long-term future at Manchester United appears to be in doubt, after it was revealed that the club tried to make an offer for an alternative striker, before the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Speaking in a live Q+A recently on The Athletic, the ever reliable David Ornstein said:

“United were also preparing an offer for a striker before the lockdown – not sure who – and the idea was if he ended up signing Ighalo would return to China.”

– United were after a new striker

It was also recently reported from the Evening Standard that the club were working down a shortlist of forwards, before making a decision on Ighalo. The forward’s loan expires on June 30th, with a rumoured fee of £15m floating around, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer want to sign the Nigerian on a permanent basis.

READ MORE: Reports: Man United Make Approach For Aubameyang

At 30-years-of-age though, the manager may opt for a younger option to bring in. All of the reported names on their shortlist were aged twenty-six or below.

The situation remains uncertain, with Ornstein further saying:

“COVID-19 has thrown everything up in the air, so we don’t know how things will pan out.”

– No deal has been struck as of yet

As per the same report, it is said that no offer is on the table for Ighalo yet, making it clear that United are pursuing other targets first.

What forward would you like the club to sign? Let us know in the comment section below.

READ MORE: Ed Woodward No Longer Involved With Transfer Recruitment

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Solskjaer on Odion Ighalo’s Future

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been full of praise for loanee Odion Ighalo, hailing the striker’s impact and has hinted towards him staying at Manchester United.

Not much was expected from the Nigerian when he arrived back in January, having initally joined to make up the numbers and act as emergency cover for the injured Marcus Rashford.

Read More: Radek Vitek: Manchester United’s New Signing

After four goals in three starts though, Ighalo has showcased his ability and justified United’s decision to bring him to the club. Many fans have been calling for Ed Woodward to make his move permanent, with a transfer fee of £15m being rumoured.

Speaking on the forward, his manager has been very impressed:

“Odion has done really well since he came in and he’s enjoying himself. He’s a goalscorer and a striker, he doesn’t worry too much about all that nonsense; build-up play – that’s a joke, obviously. He knows his job and what his role in the team is, and he’s very good with his back to goal.”

– Ole Gunnar Solskajer

It is this style of play that has helped Ighalo flourish during his short time at the club, as he has offered a new dimension to United’s attack. As opposed to constantly running in-behind, the 30-year-old has dropped deep and linked up with the midfield.

On Ighalo’s future, Solskjaer dropped a big hint as to whether the Red Devils will sign him permanently:

“He will improve and get better, but he has qualities we saw in him and we needed, and we will still need those qualities for next season, so let’s see what we will do.”

– Ighalo could be here next season

Should big money be distributed into other areas of the squad, fans will no doubt welcome the arrival of Ighalo. He’s an experienced striker with an eye for goal, and he quite simply does the job expected of him.

The striker offers quality cover to Anthony Martial, with United needing such depth to compete on all fronts next season.

Read More: Solskjaer on Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba