The new Manchester United signing Odion Ighalo has been dubbed as the final missing piece in the Red Devils’ attacking line and the man who will save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sinking ship with his plans on playing the role of a player that will provide focal presence the team has lacked to now.
Odion Ighalo started his career in 2007 at 18-years of age when he joined a Nigerian football club Bridge. In August, the same year, he moved to Norway, where he played for FK Lyn and in 2008 moved to Udinese, where he enjoyed a 1-year-long stint before he got loaned out to Spain, where he played for Granada FC. At the end of his loan with the Spanish side, he got loaned out to Cesena for six months. In January 2011, Ighalo got sent on another loan, this time returning to Granada. His loan spell with the Spanish team got extended until June 2014, when he returned back to Udinese.
Unfortunately, Ighalo’s return did not last for long, as he served another loan at Watford. At the end of his loan with the English side, Watford decided to buy the Nigerian striker for €8 million. Ighalo spent the next 2.5 years at Watford, until January 2017, when he got sold to a Chinese side CC Yatai for €23.3 million. Ighalo spent the next two years with CC Yatai and in February 2019 got sold to SH Shenhua.
Ighalo proved to be a crucial player for SH Shenhua, where he played a total of 19 games and scored 10 goals. In 18/19 season he also helped his new side win the Chinese Cup. His improvement and eye for goals, however, did not go unnoticed and earlier this year, he got approached by Manchester United, who made a loan deal with the Chinese side, who allowed Ighalo to play for the Red Devils until the summer of 2020.
The move to Manchester United not only marked a monumental stepping stone in Ighalo’s football career but also a dream come true, as he a huge fan of the Red Devils and always hoped he would one day get a chance to represent the red-and-yellow colours. Now that day has come and Ighalo is determined to do everything in his power to help the Red Devils improve their performances on the pitch.
Much like many Man Utd fans, Ighalo believes Solskjaer’s side lacked a physical presence in the box, which consequently harmed their attacking strength. He, is, however, confident that he has the needed tools to add the needed quality for his new club. In an interview with MUTV, Ighalo talked about how he believes he has spotted the issues with Man Utd’s playstyle and that he is the right man to fix those problems.
When asked if he brings different qualities to the table, Igalo said: “Yeah, because sometimes I watch the games and they don’t have like a striker who stays mostly in the middle.”
“Martial likes to come from the side, even Rashford and all that. So they need someone in the middle who can keep the ball, hold the ball,” he added.
“Because I watched so many United games and they need that physicality there to keep the ball, to give, to make some movement. I believe, if everything goes well, I can add to the team.”
He continued by talking about Greenwood Martial and Rashford, claiming he is a big fan of all three, although he will most likely have to compete for a place in the United’s attacking line-up with them.
“Martial is very skillful, he can do so much magic with the ball. And Rashford for me is one of the best, if not the best, young players in Europe right now. He’s doing so well, he’s scoring goals, he’s fast and he has good technique.”
His first match in the Man Utd’s jersey came on Monday, February 17, when he faced off against Lampard’s Chelsea. Although Ighalo did not take part in the squad’s training camp in Marbella during his 16-day break from action due to coronavirus fears, he has joined his new teammates in a crucial EPL match.
Unfortunately, the new arrival did not get a chance to start for Man Utd. He came on the pitch in the dying embers of United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea. He even came close to scoring a debut goal but was denied the chance as he went one-on-one with goalkeeper Willy Caballero. Ighalo got a chance to start for United in their Europa League match against Brugge and hit the net once in the 5-0 victory.
“For me, Odion is a different type of striker for us,” said Solskjaer.
“He’s a box striker, he’s a goalscorer, we’ve already seen in training. He really knows his craft, he knows how to train as a centre forward, and he’s a fantastic professional and human being and he’s already added to the squad.”
In the next Premier League match, Manchester United will host city rivals Manchester City. Whether it’s still unclear when will Ighalo get to start an EPL match for Man United, his new coach told the press he will be rotating the squad in the next couple of matches, meaning Ighalo’s proper debut might be closer than expected and the fans can’t wait to see whether he can deliver to his promises and help his new team by some attacking strength in the box.