With Mike Adeyemi
Odion Ighalo made a surprise January transfer window deadline day loan switch to Manchester United from Chinese Super League club, Shanghai Shenhua. Here are three reasons the former Super Eagles striker would make a big impact at the Old Trafford.
Premier League Experience
Ighalo is returning to familiar territory following his previous stint with Watford. The 30-year-old spent three seasons at Watford and made huge impact with The Hornets. He scored 36 goals in 90 league appearances during his time at the club.
That experience will come handy in what is expected to be a tough spell at Old Trafford where he is expected to shoulder goal scoring responsibilities in the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford.
Established strikers like Samuel Eto’o Fils and Gonzalo Higuain have struggled in the highly physical Premier League in the past, but Ighalo have the experience to navigate through this challenge.
Proven Goal Scorer
Odion Ighalo may have not been the kind of signing most United fans craved for, but they surely have a proven goal scorer in their ranks. Aside from his successful spell with Watford, he was also the leading marksman during his two year spell at Chinese Super League club, Changchun Yatai.
Ighalo scored 15 goals in 27 league appearances in his first season at Changchun Yatai and hit the back of the net 21 times in 28 games the following season.
Injury disrupted his appearance in his first season at Shanghai Shenhua, but he still managed to score 10 goals in 17 league appearances for the FA Cup kings.
On the international scene, he was top scorer during the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with seven goals and also won the golden boot with six goals at the competition proper in Egypt.
Overall, he scored 16 goals in 35 outings for Nigeria.
Talk of a cat with nine lives, then Odion Ighalo is surely the one. The 30-year-old endured a difficult childhood to become one of the household names in the world football. From a dusty playground in Ajegunle, he has now fulfilled his dream of playing for his childhood club.
The powerful forward was singled out as the villain of the piece by the majority of Super Eagles fans after the side’s elimination from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The striker endured abuse on social media from fans who not only targeted him, but also abused his wife and called his children names too, even going so far as making death threats against the player and his family members.
Despite pressure from his family to quit national assignment right away in the face of the abuses, he stepped up his commitment and helped the Super Eagles qualify for AFCON 2019, emerging top scorer with seven goals.
He then went on to claim the golden boot in Egypt 2019, before bowing out of international football.
Playing for the 20-time Premier League champions will no doubt put him under the spotlight, but Ighalo surely have what it takes to excel at the club.
…assigned shirt Number 25
Odion Ighalo has reportedly been handed his shirt number by new club Manchester United. It’s believed Ighalo will wear the number 25 kit for the remainder of the season.
That number is particularly popular in his native Nigeria, with Nwankwo Kanu having starred for Arsenal in it.
In his previous spell in England with Watford, Ighalo was allocated the number 24 kit.
Previous players to have worn that number for United are Antonio Valencia, Nick Powell, Danny Simpson, Quinton Fortune and Jordi Cruyff.
…also to wear special boots on debut
Odion Ighalo will wear boots adorning a touching tribute to his late sister Mary when he takes to the field for Manchester United.
The 30-year-old sealed his dream move on Deadline Day, when moving to Old Trafford on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
But the Nigerian suffered the personal tragedy of losing his older sister back in December.
Ighalo revealed in a tribute to her that she died at the age of 42 on December 12 last year.
The former Watford striker has kept the details of her passing private, but was clearly close to his sibling.
He has posted a series of pictures of them together on social media, and he has made an image of Mary his profile picture on both Twitter and Instagram.
And he has posted a picture of a brand new pair of bright red Nike football boots, featuring her name written just above the trademark swoosh.
Following her name, Mary Atole, is the Nigerian flag.
…included in United’s Europa League Squad
Manchester United have added their three January signings to their Europa League squad for the knockout stages of the competition – including Odion Ighalo and Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes signed from Sporting in January, and is eligible to represent United despite having played in all of his former club’s group stage matches in the Europa League.
UEFA dropped the rule preventing players from only representing one club per season in European competition in 2018.
United had to submit their desired squad changes by 24:00 CET on Monday, February 3, where they could add up to three new players.
The resulting squad has seen Fernandes joined by loan signing Odion Ighalo and youth addition Nathan Bishop, who joined from Southend.
United play their first leg of their last-32 tie at Club Brugge on February 20.