Paul Merson has expressed his fears that on-loan Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo may drop off in form next season if he is handed a permanent contract.
Having failed to replace Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku last summer, Marcus Rashford’s back injury in mid-January forced United’s hand late on in the transfer window.
Nigeria international Ighalo was surprisingly brought in on a temporary spell from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, but the 30-year-old has hit the ground running with four goals to help his side progress in the FA Cup and Europa League.
As such, there have been reports that United are willing to offer the striker a permanent deal at Old Trafford, with a contract believed to be on the table.
However, speaking to Sky Sports, Merson explained that the scenario where Ighalo rests on his laurels having gained a permanent contract, could occur.
“I know he hasn’t played a lot of football but when he’s come off the bench and when he has got some game time, he’s looked class,” the pundit said.
“It’s a hard decision Manchester United have to make regarding his future because if you give him a contract, can he perform again that next season?
“When you go to a club on loan you’ve got that hunger of wanting to secure a permanent move, prove everybody inside the club right and everybody outside the club wrong.
“All of a sudden, you give someone a contract and they think they’ve done all the hard work. You’ve only got to look at his time at Watford.
“He looked a world-beater but then next minute he couldn’t score a goal for toffee. But if you are going on the form he’s showed since coming to the club in January it’s going to be hard to get rid of him.”
Ighalo was one of two signings United made in January, with fellow arrival Bruno Fernandes also having a stunning impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side.
In other news, Rashford has provided a positive update on his recovery from injury.