Kaveh Solhekol, The Insider: Man Utd's Odion Ighalo chase - and Erling Haaland hope
Was Louis van Gaal's assistant behind Man Utd's move for Odion Ighalo and could Erling Haaland still move to Old Trafford?
By Kaveh Solhekol, Sky Sports News reporter
Last Updated: 03/02/20 8:36pm
In a new weekly column, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol lifts the lid on Manchester United's Deadline Day striker rush, reflects on Chelsea's lack of business and reveals why he's rooting for Norwich boss Daniel Farke...
Nearly all Premier League clubs have big scouting and recruitment departments who watch and analyse players from all over the world.
They constantly collect data and information on targets and there are endless reports and meetings. Lists of targets in each position are analysed and scrutinised.
With all that in mind, why have a club as big and rich as Manchester United signed Odion Ighalo on loan?
It seems unlikely that they have been watching him closely in China. Surely, he can't have been on any list of current targets?
Yes, they did try to sign him once, but that was four years ago when Louis van Gaal was manager and Ighalo was 26-years-old and scoring regularly in the Premier League for Watford.
It has been common knowledge among agents for a while that United wanted to sign a striker in January - especially after Marcus Rashford was injured against Wolves.
United were inundated with calls from agents eager to get their players a dream move to Old Trafford.
So why did they go for Ighalo? Well one old face from Van Gaal's time at United is likely to have played a key role in the move for the Nigeria striker.
Marcel Bout was Van Gaal's assistant coach and opposition scout when United tried to sign Ighalo from Watford in 2016.
Van Gaal is long gone but Bout is still at United working as the global head of scouting. He is likely to have been a driving force behind the move for Ighalo - four years after he was identified as a potential United player.
They say better later than never, but surely United would have been better off breaking the bank to get Erling Braut Haaland rather than making a late move for a 30-year-old Nigerian forward who hasn't played since the Chinese season ended two months ago.
The one that got away
On Haaland, I got a couple of messages from an agent last week who wanted to correct me for something I had said on The Transfer Show.
He was watching and messaged me while we were on air. We had been discussing United's search for a striker and I made the wholly unoriginal point that they should have paid whatever it took to sign Haaland - the same Haaland who has scored seven times in his first three games for Borussia Dortmund.
He told me that United had no chance of signing Haaland. He said he had known the striker since he was a five-year-old boy and it had always been his dream to play in Germany.
According to the agent, Haaland will play in the Premier League one day but the plan was always for him to move to the Bundesliga last month.
So, as far as United are concerned, it's not a case of what might have been but a case of what could still be.
Chelsea's dry January
If Chelsea miss out on a Champions League place this season, Frank Lampard will look back on the January transfer window as a missed opportunity.
Tottenham, Manchester United, Sheffield United, Wolves and Arsenal bought players to help their managers push for a top-four place, but Lampard has to make do with what he has.
Even though Chelsea successfully appealed to have their FIFA transfer ban lifted, no new faces arrived at the Stamford Bridge.
There was no back-up striker, no long-term replacement for Eden Hazard, no new left-back and no new centre-back.
And Olivier Giroud is still at the club even though it would have suited all parties if he had been sold and replaced before his contract runs out in the summer.
That may also be when Kepa leaves the club. He is the most expensive goalkeeper in the world but he was dropped for the draw at Leicester on Saturday and Lampard does not seem convinced that he is good enough to be his long-term number one.
Major surgery is required to help Lampard develop the Chelsea squad in his own image. Yes, he has done well to bring in so many promising young players, but January was the ideal opportunity to strengthen, push on and go again.
Depending on who you speak to, there are two different versions of what is happening behind the scenes at Chelsea.
Either Lampard is becoming increasingly frustrated with what he perceives to be a lack of support or he accepts that Chelsea worked hard but failed to bring in some of his targets in January.
Whoever you believe, it is undeniable that Chelsea need to spend big in the summer. Players such as Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell will not be cheap or easy to get.
In the meantime, Lampard has to soldier on with the squad he started the season with. Chelsea's next three games - against Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayern Munich - could define their season.
The man in black
Daniel Farke must be the nicest manager in English football. I have interviewed him before and after Norwich defeats this season and he is the same at 2pm and at 5pm.
Interviewing managers can be a daunting prospect. You have to tread on eggshells and you can never be totally sure what kind of mood they are going to be in.
But it is totally different with Farke. He treats you like a friend - even after Norwich have just lost 3-0.
He doesn't moan about the fact that he only had £1.5m to spend last summer or the fact that he had next to nothing to spend last month even though Norwich are bottom of the Premier League.
He just goes about his job and his team keep playing his way. Let's hope Norwich keep faith with him even if they go down.
If will be a dark day for football if the man in black loses his job.
Will 4-4-2 ever return?
I am waiting patiently for the traditional version of 4-4-2 to come back into fashion.
Forget low blocks, transitions, false nines and 4-3-3. Nothing beats two wingers with a little and big man combination up front.
Bad pitches, sliding tackles, rampaging wingers getting to the byline, near-post flicks and strikers arriving late to head home. That's what you call real football if you are a supporter of a certain age.
Nowadays in the top flight, it seems only Sean Dyche's Burnley play regularly with the old school formation.
I was reminiscing about old times with a manager just before Christmas.
I asked him if good old-fashioned 4-4-2 - not the modern variants - would ever make a comeback in the Premier League.
He said no!
Look out for Kaveh Solhekol's new weekly column on the Sky Sports website and app.