In his first interview after completing his shock deadline day move to Manchester United in January, Odion Ighalo told the club’s official magazine about his love for the club as a kid playing soccer in the dusty grounds of Nigeria and how he paid extra to own the blue jersey with the names of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole imprinted on them. He also told the magazine about watching the matches on TV with his siblings and supporting the Red Devils.
This story of the rise of this player from Nigeria to Manchester United touched the string chords of the Footballing world and the Manchester Fans alike. Though Newer fans of this enigmatic club are left to wonder about the impact of the Striker on the teams he has played till now and the impact he will have on Manchester United’s season now.
Starting his career with Julius Berger in Nigeria, Ighalo was discovered by a Fifa agent who recommended him to a club in Norway. Ighalo made his debut in the Tippeligaen and subsequently moved to Udinese and then Granada in his fledging footballing career. It was at Granada that the Nigerian got his taste of regular first-team football and helped the Andalusia side get back to back promotion with his stint in the team.
Ighalo found his fame at Watford, where he helped the English side earn promotion to the Premier League and formed a lethal partnership with Club captain Troy Deeney to help Watford to a 13th place finish in the table, scoring 16 EPL goals in the process and bagging a POTM award for his efforts.
It was then that the rumours began linking him to the Red Devils with the pundit’s debating over whether he would fit into Van Gaal’s style of football at the Old Trafford.
A surprise stint in China followed after that, With Ighalo playing for 2 different clubs, but soon a January deadline day loan deal allowed him to finally achieve his dream of playing in the Theatre of Dreams.
The Nigerian international forward has scored 5 goals in this campaign, With 3 of them coming in the league cup and 2 in the UEFA Europa League. All his goals have come from inside the penalty area. His performances have been that of an all-round striker rather than a poacher. His technical ability makes him a good fit for Solskjaer’s approach. Like Martial, he is fond of taking on his opponent and is very adept at finding his teammates in promising positions of the ball. Ighalo is a good header of the ball, which adds another skill set into his arsenal which makes him a good backup striker for the side.
The Nigerian hit the ground running at the Manchester Outfit, scoring 3 goals in his first 3 appearances for the club. Ighalo as a player has been utilized by the English Giants as a backup striker rather than a first-team entry, a player who can change the nature and the tempo of the game right after his substitution, thus making him a threat to the opposition in the dying minutes.
Ighalo agreed to a short extension in his contract to finish the season for the Red Devils, But with his age a factor and the Chinese side reluctant to agree to a permanent transfer, It seems that the 31-year-old star’s long term future lies away from England with the club expected to fill the position with a young talent instead.