Manchester United seal shock Ighalo loan at the eleventh hour

In a shock move, Manchester United capped off the January transfer window by sealing a six-month loan deal for Odion Ighalo.

After a hectic deadline day, in which they were linked with a variety of strikers including Danny Ings and Joshua King, Manchester United have stunned the football world by signing former Watford striker Odion Ighalo on a six-month loan deal from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Pushed into desperation-mode by a long term injury to top-scorer Marcus Rashford, the need for a new striker at Old Trafford has been evident, with loan options being allegedly mooted since the start of the window.

Ighalo will be a familiar face to Premier League fans, after scoring 39 goals across 99 appearances for Watford. After a breakout 2015/16 campaign, where he scored 15 goals, he endured a disappointing 2016/17 season, scoring 1 goal in 18 appearances for the club, before moving to Changchun Yatai.

The Nigerian striker has maintained a healthy scoring rate in the Chinese Super League, and across 74 games for Changchun and Shanghai, he has scored 46 goals, while also bagging 6 goals in 10 appearances for Nigeria in 2019.

The signing of Ighalo may be an odd one, but as a short term loan move, it represents a low-risk option for United. Ighalo is likely to play as a backup striker, allowed the club to rest the overworked Anthony Martial, and not have to rely solely on the talented but raw Mason Greenwood to pick up the slack.

It is unclear at this time what percentage of Ighalo’s salary United will be paying, but with the Manchester club’s desperation for a striker an overarching story on deadline day, it would be unsurprising if it were over half of the basic pay of £200,000 per week he receives at Shanghai.

Different outlets are clashing over whether there is an option to buy in Ighalo’s contract with United, with some details likely to be hashed out over the coming week. After tomorrow’s game at Wolves, United do not play again until 17th February, giving Ighalo and fellow new signing Bruno Fernandes some time to settle in.