What next for Manchester United and Odion Ighalo?

Transfer policy at Manchester United has been something of a sour point for many fans over recent years, although the winter transfer window did see the club redeem themselves somewhat.

The capture of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes was well received by supporters, while the player has also made an instant impact with his impressive displays. Meanwhile, the loan arrival of Odion Ighalo did raise more than a few eyebrows initially, although his displays have shown that, if United decide to make the deal permanent, he will continue to repay their faith in his attacking abilities.

Perhaps the signing of Ighalo can provide the Old Trafford hierarchy with a clear example of what they should be looking for. Players who offer the right mix of genuine desire to pull on the famous red jersey, alongside the talent and skill to provide exactly what the manager requires of them. Players who understand what it means to represent Manchester United.

Today, many avid fans are turning to digital representations to keep them entertained, playing video games such as Football Manager and FIFA. Such games have sparked renewed interest in eSports, with online gaming sites and bookmakers such as ComeOn Casino offering odds on the digital versions of teams like Manchester United in action. So, while we might not get to see Ighalo in action for a while, fans can keep their eyes peeled for any digital Man U matches coming their way.

There’s certainly no doubt that Ighalo will have had his stats updated on FIFA20, along with his facial image in the game and his customary goal celebration, which hasn’t changed over the last decade.

Deeply religious, Ighalo has always regarded scoring goals as his opportunity to give thanks to God. That’s why he’s kept the same celebration of running to the corner flag, hands in the air and looking to the sky. No matter where this journeyman striker has scored his goals, this has been a constant and considering where he was just a decade ago, Ighalo will always feel grateful.

Interestingly, back in 2010 life was completely different for Ighalo. Ten years ago he was playing for Granada CF in the Segunda B, the third tier of Spanish football. During his five seasons with the club, while never the most prolific of strikers, Ighalo is still regarded as a legend amongst their fans. He had a knack for scoring some of their most important goals, including one that secured promotion back to LaLiga for the first time in 35 years.

During his time in LaLiga with Granada, it’s fair to say that Ighalo wasn’t utilised as well as he could have been, as various managers came and went. He never complained, kept working hard and always sported his trademark smile. Patience and perseverance were eventually rewarded with a switch to Watford, with Ighalo quickly finding his feet in English football.

One of the key players who helped Watford return to the Premier League, the goals kept flowing for Ighalo with the Hornets buzzing amongst the English elite. His form was attracting attention far and wide, including Manchester United according to rumours at the time. Nevertheless, the next leg of a journeyman career took Ighalo to China, where he continued to shine with Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Shenhua.

More out of necessity with Marcus Rashford injured and a lack of alternatives in the January transfer window of 2020, United eventually made their move for Ighalo. He didn’t need to be convinced, didn’t need to think about it, and he was prepared to accept whatever role that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had in mind. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and for the 30-year-old, possibly the last chance to realise his dream of playing for the Red Devils.

Ighalo hasn’t wasted his opportunity. While his Premier League appearances have been fleeting, typically appearing from the bench, his cup appearances have been spectacular. 2 goals in 1 FA Cup appearance, 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 Europa League appearances. The last outing for Ighalo in the continental competition also produced an absolutely stunning strike, which has left United fans drooling for more from their new attacking idol.

Amidst talk of negotiations for a permanent switch from Shanghai Shenhua, there’ll be no difficulties presented by Ighalo. All that remains is for United to agree terms with the Chinese club, with the Nigerian international certainly deserving of the opportunity to stay put at Old Trafford.

Manchester United keen on Watford’s Odion Ighalo

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Watford striker Odion Ighalo has been linked with Manchester United following a fantastic debut season in the Premier League, and even admitted he would struggle to turn down an approach if the Red Devils made their interest official. The 26-year-old has scored 14 goals in 20 league games to help the Hornets to 9th place just three points off a top-six finish.

Having signed for Watford on a permanent deal in October 2014, Ighalo has scored a total of 34 goals in 41 starts, and has drawn the attention of a number of suitors as a result. A lifelong supporter of a Manchester United side who are actively seeking attacking options to inject some pace, Ighalo admitted it would be difficult to say no to them.

“There has been speculation from Spain and Italy but I’ve played there and now want to play in England. I don’t think I will be moving but I’m not sure I’d say no if United called. They were my team growing up. I loved watching Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on TV. They were my idols and playing at Old Trafford has always been a dream,” he said.

Watford manager Quique Flores has been clear of the club’s stance in the January transfer window. The Hornets won’t sell any of their top performers at any price given how well they are doing in the Premier League this season, so United would have to pay a big sum to try and tempt the newly-promoted outfit. Ighalo was a free transfer for Watford last year, but could fetch more than £20M with how well he’s adapted to the English top-flight.

Lining up with Troy Deeney in attack, the two strikers have formed a potent partnership, contributing 27 goals this season in the league. Full of pace and power, while an expert at finding space in between the lines, Ighalo has been the thorn of many sides in the Premier League in 2015/16. He’s been key to Watford’s bright start to life in the top-flight, but did also admit he was happy at Vicarage Road for the time being.

With Watford performing above expectation in their maiden campaign since their promotion from the Championship, interest in a number of their top performers was inevitable. The club don’t want to sell, but with Ighalo admitting an interest of joining his former side, Watford are somewhat powerless.

Could Odion Ighalo leave Watford to join Manchester United?

Can Odion Ighalo Be The Answer to Chelsea’s Prayers?

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Much of the talk so far this season has been about Leicester City’s inexorable rise to the top of the Premier League, and in particular the form of their dual talisman Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

So spare a thought for newly-promoted Watford then. The Hornets overcame Liverpool 3-0 on Sunday to record their fourth straight victory and climb to seventh in the table – just one point off the Champions League places. In any other season, their front pairing of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney would be drawing all the plaudits.

It’s Ighalo in particular that has caught the eye this term. The Nigerian has notched 12 league goals – that’s just three fewer than Vardy and one less than Mahrez by the way, plus three more than Olivier Giroud and Harry Kane and five more than Sergio Aguero.

The Nigerian has been something of a journeyman throughout his career to date, and it’s only really since joining the Hornets in 2014 that his goalscoring exploits have come to wider attention.

He started off in his native Nigeria with Prime and Julius Burger, before nine goals in twenty appearances for Lyn in Norway convinced Udinese to take a chance on the pacey frontman. After a mixed spell in front of goal he was farmed out to Granada, Cesena and then back to the Spanish side on loan.

Ighalo only managed to record 21 goals in 104 appearances in his second spell at Granada, so it’s surprising that the Watford scouting team saw anything in him. But they have been well and truly justified now that he’s notched 32 times in 55 games as part of the Hornets’’ rise from the Championship.

And my, how a side like Chelsea could do with a player like Ighalo. And it’s not just his goals that mark him out as one of the stars of the Premier League campaign thus far, it’s his ability to create chances for his teammates (most principally Deeney) with his hard-running into the channels and willingness to do the ‘dirty work’ for his team. There are fewer harder-working strikers in the division than the Nigerian either.

With Diego Costa struggling to recapture the form of last season, Loic Remy seemingly not trusted as a first choice striker and Falcao being, well, Falcao, the January transfer window will be an interesting time for Guus Hiddink and Chelsea. With no European football to offer any prospective new signings next term, they might need to cast their net a little wider as they seek to rebuild their faltering squad.

They could do a lot worse than taking a look at Odion Ighalo.