The Super Eagles star made the dream switch to Manchester United in the heady hours of the January transfer window earlier this year, but it’s not all been plain sailing. Now his future hangs in the balance.
A dream move
Ighalo is no stranger to the Premier League, having played over 80 times for Watford over the course of three years from 2014 to 2017. The Lagos born striker has experienced football at the highest level in a career spanning over 15 years, taking him from Nigeria to Norway, to the Italian Serie A and even as far afield as China.
It was last season though, after a successful spell in the Chinese Super League, that English footballing giants, Manchester United came knocking on Ighalo’s door.
The centre forward has made no secret of his United fandom, speaking of watching United greats such as Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole romping their way to the treble when he was a young boy.
Lack of game time
But despite bagging 5 goals in 18 appearances last season, the summer gave way to frustration for Ighalo. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer drafted the Nigerian striker in as a bulwark for United’s frailties at the top of the pitch.
The Norwegian manager had originally dispatched with star striker Romelu Lukaku at the start of the season to Inter Milan, needing an experienced striker to supplement forward players Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Enter Ighalo.
Since the return of European football after an unexpected break in play Ighalo has featured very little. Despite United struggling to break the deadlock in a number of games the Nigerian has been used sparingly by Solskjaer.
This state of affairs has led to visible frustration from Ighalo on the touchline, particularly as United crashed out to Sevilla in the semi final of the Europa League. Ighalo was only brought on in the dying minutes of the game with little chance to make an enduring impact.
Chances of silverware
Still, Ighalo’s current loan deal from parent club Shanghai Shenhua was extended beyond the bounds of last season to the end of the January transfer window next year. He is still yet to lift a trophy with his boyhood favourite, but a fresh season brings new chances.
A range of betting sites are offering odds on competitions where United will be hoping to pick up a trophy, and no doubt an experienced, out-and-out striker like Ighalo will be vital to the Manchester side’s fortunes if they are to compete on a number of fronts this season.
There has been no news on the contract front since the loan renewal in back in May and with few chances available on the pitch in recent weeks it leaves Ighalo’s role at the Red Devils in doubt.
United have not currently been linked with another striker – Ighalo’s main operating position on the pitch. Solskjaer is looking to bolster his squad in a number of other positions, including the acquisition of Dutch playmaker Donny van de Beek and the ongoing Jadon Sancho saga who primarily operates in wide positions.
However, Ighalo’s Premier League renaissance has sparked renewed interest, none other from the likes of French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain. Although it remains to be seen if Ighalo could be prized away from his dream club, but also how many minutes he will get on the pitch this year.
Manchester United will be kicking off the new season this weekend following a friendly defeat to Aston Villa last week. Their progress can be followed with Premier League football predictions from start to finish over the course of the new English football campaign for 2020/21.