Odion Ighalo set for Manchester United loan extension
Striker under contract at Shanghai Shenhua until 2021; United have option to buy Ighalo on permanent deal once loan spell ends
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 25/03/20 6:19am
Odion Ighalo's loan deal with Manchester United ends on May 31 and it will likely be extended to June 30 due to the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ighalo's parent club, Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, expect the player to return after his loan stay at Old Trafford finishes.
Ighalo joined up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign in January, having made a transfer deadline day move.
United have the option to buy the Nigeria international on a permanent deal once his loan expires.
Ighalo, who scored 40 goals and made 11 assists in 100 appearances for Watford from 2014 to 2017, has netted four times in eight matches in all competitions since returning to English football.
Shanghai Shenhua have reportedly lined-up a replacement for Ighalo and are close to a deal to bring former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins back to the club, having previously played there between 2016 and 2018.
China's domestic league has yet to start the 2020 season after kick-off was delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak but speculation is mounting that the campaign will begin in late April or early May.
'Ighalo has proved shrewd bit of business'
Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper:
There's no doubting Ighalo has made an excellent impression on Manchester United since joining in the last moments of the January transfer window.
After a bright start that has seen him hit four goals in his last five appearances, United are certainly looking at the options available to them and aren't ruling out extending his time at Old Trafford.
For those who questioned bringing in a 30-year-old playing in China, what many couldn't have appreciated is Ighalo's desire, his love of Manchester United, and his adeptness at finding the back of the net.
His two goals against Derby, while not against top-line defenders, demonstrated his ability to convert opportunities that, perhaps, his fellow strikers at the club would have spurned.
Solskjaer wants his primary hitmen, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, to get themselves into positions and situations to score even more goals. He wants to hone their instincts and anticipation in and around the six-yard box.
Ighalo does these things naturally and while he might not be as feted as the likes of Henrik Larsson or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, like them, he's delivered the goods so far and proved to be a shrewd bit of business.
Odion Ighalo: Exclusive interview
In an exclusive interview earlier this month, Odion Ighalo told Sky Sports how he spent his lunch money on watching Manchester United as a child - and explains how his Deadline Day move came about.
"I didn't sleep until 6am in the morning because of everything, from paperwork to trying to exchange that to trying to agree the fee. Even my agent was shaking because this is very big for Man United, with all that is going on, they have the trust to bring you in. I said, 'Now you have to make this happen, I don't care what it has to take, just make it happen, I want to sign'.
"It was a big dream that was finally coming to pass. I didn't believe my eyes until I landed in the UK, then it was real."