Image Credits: Reuters
Many Premier League fans will know of Ighalo’s name from his fruitful spell with Watford, with 39 goals in 99 appearances for The Hornets. None, however, would’ve expected the Nigerian striker to return by signing for such an illustrious club as Manchester United. It is apparently a ‘dream move’ for the Nigerian, who swaps China for Old Trafford on a loan deal.
Not only is it shocking due to the fact Manchester United could attract a greater quality player, Ighalo was on big bucks in the Chinese Super League with both Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Shenhua. For the latter, he had 36 goals in only 55 appearances which led to him narrowly missing out on a golden boot and signing for Shanghai subsequently.
His goal record attracted Manchester United, and with an opportunity to play for his dream boyhood club, his wages dropping significantly wasn’t too much of an issue. In a day and age where players go out onto the pitch primarily for monetary gain, Ighalo might warm himself to the Old Trafford faithful by genuinely wanting to give his all in that red shirt.
Speaking in interviews about this bizarre loan switch, Odion is 30 and from a perceived lower league, he has expressed his admiration of Manchester United strikers of years gone past – the likes of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke lighting up his TV in his native Nigeria.
Fans of The Red Devils might be slightly bemused that they haven’t gone for someone younger, or someone slightly more exciting, but, it can’t be faulted that Odion wants to succeed and isn’t going to be a prima donna under Solskjaer. Not only at club level has Ighalo prospered, he too has plenty of goals at an international level. He finished as top scorer in the last African Cup of Nations for The Super Eagles, with 16 goals in 35 caps for his nation.
However, it hasn’t always been so smooth sailing on an international stage for Odion. At the World Cup a year prior, after going goalless throughout Nigeria’s short time out in Russia, he stated that he’d received death threats against himself and his family.
Taking into account the criticism some footballers have faced at Manchester United, notably Paul Pogba from fans and pundits alike, Odion will want to hit the ground running when he’s called upon. With a fanbase that can border on being toxic, hopefully, Ighalo will be able to look back on his dream loan move fondly and not because he was jeered at by his own supporters.
Dreaming of such a move as a child, his wildest thoughts couldn’t have anticipated this – dreams will soon become reality when he walks out at the aptly named Theatre of Dreams.