Manchester United now plan on signing Odion Ighalo on a permanent basis as they’re unsure if the striker would be able to play for the club again under the current circumstances of his loan deal due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports metro.co.uk.
The former Watford striker was a shock signing on deadline day in January and he was only intended to be a stop-gap before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was handed significant funds to sign a striker in the summer.
However, the 30-year-old was in a rich vein of form before the Premier League season was postponed, scoring four goals in his first eight appearances for the club.
The season has been postponed until April 29th but it’s extremely likely that there will be further delays as the UK is believed to be some way off the ‘peak’ of the covid-19 pandemic. Ighalo’s loan deal runs until May 31 and cannot be extended, meaning United face the prospect of the Nigerian leaving before playing for the club again.
That’s not something that Solskjaer wants to risk and the Daily Mail claim United are going to sign Ighalo for £15 million. Shanghai Shenhua are open to selling the Nigerian, who is on £300,000-a-week at the club. Speaking last month, Solskjaer hinted at a permanent deal. “He will improve and get better,” said the United boss. “He has the qualities we saw in him that we needed. And we will still need those qualities next season — so let’s see what we will do.”
Sources close to the player have indicated that the Nigerian would be open to making his loan deal permanent, should the club want to keep him, but the Covid-19 situation has complicated matters.
The contract, which was agreed with the player and his parent club Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, was enough to see Ighalo stay until the end of the season and past a potential Europa League final.
However, it is now likely United would have to ask for special permission for an extension to his deal with the 2019-20 campaign, if it resumes, likely to run past the end of May. “We might get to the summer and think we want to extend this, who knows? He’s come in like a breath of fresh air as well,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “He had chances in his five minutes against Chelsea, he scored against Bruges, he had chances against Watford, he had a very good save [from a shot] against Everton – there have been good saves, he doesn’t miss the target very often.
“Even for Anthony (Martial), Mason (Greenwood) and Marcus to learn that it is where the sharks are swimming. It’s comfortable outside the box and you can have a few shots. It’s in there where it might be a bit tougher and you might get hurt – that’s where you get goals.”
The 30-year-old refused to be drawn on his future last week when he was asked by The Sun about potentially staying at Old Trafford. He said: “Talking about other things now will not only be selfish but terribly insensitive. I don’t even think about it. The challenge before us now is not a football one, but a global one.”