Odion Ighalo: From a mediocre buy to an integral squad member

Kweku Lawrence
By Kweku Lawrence
4 Min Read

Odion Ighalo arrived from Shanghai Shenhua on an initial six months loan to Manchester United on the deadline day of the winter window.

The rationale behind Ighalo’s signing was to provide a short term cover for Marcus Rashford who had suffered an injury to his backbone after coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The 30-year-old is living the dream of everyone who is connected to the club – pulling off the ‘Red Jersey’ at the Theatre of Dreams.


His passion, enthusiasm and actions have portrayed a character who has always had this dream and has something driving him to a safe journey, and that is exactly what he has wished for.

Well, if this isn’t a ‘super story’ enough for, just recollect the fact that Ighalo was only an alternative to Bournemouth’s Josh King – and oh yes! He was another of the club’s academy graduate.

First reception of United’s pursuit of Ighalo seemed to be just a fairytale – a player who had abandoned playing in Europe and was enjoying his football in China was being linked to a club who were so desperate to get a short term replacement for Rashford.

Fans, pundits and even former players were even critical of the decision to go after the former Nigeria international on the last day of the transfer window.

His trademark celebration may have been a long time prayer as well, as the player was signed and got a perfect time to be integrated into the team with a well-deserved winter break.


Ighalo made his debut for the club in the 2-0 win over Chelsea, coming on as a substitute in the 90th minute and almost got a dream start but for Willy Caballero who made a good block.

Despite just three minutes on the field, the 30-year-old was showing glimpses that he may not be as blunt in front of goal as many suggested.

The next two games also proved to be the same for the forward who looked convincing as well but there was no stopping him in his first start for the club as he scored the second in the 5-0 thumping of Club Brugge at Old Trafford.


Ighalo has since scored three additional goals to take his goal tally to four goals in eight appearances, that is a goal every two games which is impressive considering leaving the European frame in January 2017.

The forward has since become a fan favourite at the club and has been content with the minutes given to him by the gaffer and the loved shown him by the supporters.

The former Watford striker possesses experience, pace and strength on the pitch and could be providing the young guns in the team with such qualities.

It is no surprise that fans have rejoiced over his decision to extend his loan deal till 2021 and that would present to him enough time to continue his dream.

WATCH: Why Ighalo Improves United! | Howson’s Brew

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