Odion Ighalo made a loan switch to the English Premier league side Manchester United, after a decent spell in the Chinese Super League for Shanghai Shenhua.
The 30-year-old had previously made his mark in the English Premier league while he was signed by Watford on a season-long loan deal from Udinese, on 29 July 2014. He made his debut for the English club in the first round of the League Cup away to Stevenage on 12 August.
OFFICIAL: Odion Ighalo has signed a one-year loan deal with #watfordfc. Welcome to the club! pic.twitter.com/hpg4IuQHxy
— Watford Football Club #StayHomeSaveLives (@WatfordFC) July 29, 2014
On 24 October 2014, Watford terminated Ighalo’s loan and re-signed him on a permanent deal the same day after Udinese released him from his contract. Exactly three months later, he scored four second half goals and was voted Man of the match in a 7–2 home routing of Blackpool, who led 0–2 at half time.
Ighalo took his league tally to 14 on 10 February 2015, after netting a brace to help his team come from behind at Brentford to win it 2–1 – his second came through an injury time header.
On 11 August 2016, Ighalo signed a new five-year contract, but the following season, he disappointingly scored just one league goal and did not find the back of the net in any of his last 15 games.
OFFICIAL: Odion Ighalo has signed a new five-year contract with #watfordfc. Congratulations @ighalojude! pic.twitter.com/45iodzMPaB
— Watford Football Club #StayHomeSaveLives (@WatfordFC) August 11, 2016
During the three seasons spent with the Hornets, Ighalo scored 39 goals in 99 appearances.
His dip of form led to Watford agreeing a reported £20 million fee with Chinese Super league side Changchun Yatai for his signature during January transfer window in 2017.
In his two years stint with the Super league side ‘Changchun Yatai’, he made a total of 55 appearances while impressively scoring 36 goals, but this unfortunately couldn’t save the club from relegation.
He then moved to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on 14 February 2019, having turned down a move to Barcelona in the previous month, “he revealed”.
For Shanghai Shenhua, Ighalo had notched 10 goals in 19 appearances and his is impressive goal scoring antics in the Chinese Super league got the attention of the Red Devils whom were seeking for a capable stand-in for their injured striker Marcus Rashford.
On 31 January 2020, Ighalo returned to the Premier League, joining Manchester United on loan until the end of the season. In doing so, he became the first Nigerian player, and only the seventh African, to join the club.
After the move was confirmed, Ighalo revealed that: “he had taken a pay cut to make the move happen, calling it a “dream” to join the club he has long supported”.
His debut was delayed as a precautionary measure due to ongoing fears over the coronavirus outbreak in China. But he eventually made his full debut for United in their Europa League round of 32 second leg match against Club Brugge on 27 February 2020. He scored his first United goal, which was also his maiden goal in a European competition. A week later, Ighalo scored his first brace for the club as United beat Derby County 3–0 in the FA Cup.
Ighalo has since featured in 8 matches and scoring an impressive return of 4 goals to his name.
Though in March 2020, while having an impressing runs of games at Old Trafford, his parent club ‘Shanghai Shenhua’ swiftly offered him a contract extension worth over £400,000 a week to fend off any potential suitor (especially Manchester United) for his signature.
Odion’s goal stats has placed him in a very good position, which is to be hopeful of a permanent deal at the Theatre of Dreams, but according to Evening Standard, Manchester United are still weighing up whether to offer the ex-Super Eagles striker a long term contract or allow him to return to China.
Ighalo obviously isn’t short of suitors, as his agent Abdul Sule revealed in an interview.
But with Ighalo’s declaration of his intent to remain with the Red Devils, coupled with taking a pay cut to actualise his dream move to Manchester United, it would be a huge blow to both club and player if no concrete offer is been tabled for the permanent signing 30-year-old deadly striker.
Though a long term plan seems be the club’s aim, but on current form, Odion Ighalo would definitely be a wonderful permanent signing addition to the squad, for them to stand a better chance of getting back to the league top next season.