Manchester United’s hopes of tying loan striker Odion Ighalo down to a permanent deal at Old Trafford have suffered a blow after his Chinese Super League side made a serious play to keep the Nigerian themselves.
The 30-year-old striker was a last-gasp deadline-day signing in January, arriving from Shanghai Shenhua on loan until the end of the season.
A report earlier this week stated that Ighalo’s deal at Old Trafford had only been structured to last until May 31 anyway, posing the club as potential problem when football in England eventually resumes.
But such has been his start to life at Old Trafford – the striker has four goals in eight appearances so far – that United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already signalled his intentions to make the transfer permanent.
“Odion has done really well when he’s come in and he’s enjoying himself,” Solskjaer said.
“He will improve and get better, but he has qualities that we saw in him that we needed and we’ll still need those qualities for next season so let’s see what we do.”
Shanghai, who did not receive a loan fee for the player, are prepared to sell Ighalo and have put a £15m valuation on the player, should they decide to sell.
However, it seems United’s hopes of keeping Ighalo at Old Trafford have suffered a big setback with Shanghai now offering the 30-year-old a two-year contract extension worth more than £400,000 per week.
Thats would be way beyond what United would be prepared to offer, with the striker reportedly earning £130,000 a week from his short stay at Old Trafford and likely to be offered a permanent deal on similar money.
And Sky Sports report that the money put on the table by the CSL has ‘seriously flattered’ the striker and left him with a serious decision to make come the summer.
Ighalo has always said it has been a dream playing for United, the club he supported as a boy.
“It’s been crazy you know,” Ighalo told Sky Sports News.
“I’m happy to be in Manchester first and this is a great opportunity for me.
“I’m grateful to God and to my agent and to the coach who’s given me the opportunity to be here, to walk out with the team and finish very well this season.
“It’s a dream come true because since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed about Man United. But this is reality now, so I can’t say much until I get started.”
Ighalo on Man Utd future
Ighalo said: ‘Talking about other things now would not only be selfish but terribly insensitive.
‘The challenge before us is not a football one, but a global one. You can’t put football before health challenges.”
“Of course I miss football, like other players and fans. But lives matter.
“Staying safe and alive is our biggest game in the world now – and we all have a role to play in it.
“Football has to take a back seat all over the planet at the moment and that is very understandable.”
Discussing Ighalo’s future in a Q&A session with his Instagram followers, Ferdinand said: “Wow, eight games, three starts in that, four goals and one assist. Ighalo, do you sign him for Manchester United now?
“All them people that out there that were saying: ‘What are we doing signing Ighalo? What’s going on? What’s Ole thinking?’ – I was one of them, I have to admit it.
“Ighalo’s been in China, the league’s nowhere near what the Premier League is so how’s he gonna get up to speed? Is he gonna be ready straight away? We need somebody to come and make an impact immediately. Coming from China, impossible.
“Well he’s proved us all wrong. This guy has proved us all wrong. It’s refreshing to see someone who is like a supporter, who is thankful. He looks like he’s absolutely delighted to be at Manchester United. He’s been a Manchester United supporter his whole life. He looks like he’s saying ‘thank you’ every day he walks up to Ole for giving him this opportunity.
“He’s not someone who says ‘Manchester United are lucky to have me here’ – that’s the vibe I’ve got for a little while and that’s not just United, that’s other clubs as well.
“This boy looks like he’s happy to be here: ‘Whatever you tell me to do I’m gonna go out there and do it to the best of my ability. I’m gonna give you 100 per cent every day in training and in matches because I love this club and I want to do right by this club’. I love it.”