English Premier League’s Manchester United is one of the biggest and elite clubs in the world.
A large percentage of Man United fans come from Africa. From when Man United signed Cameroonian Eric Djemba Djemba in 2003, the African pool of fans has not only grown but evolved to understand the types of players Man United seek.
It is for this reason that Africans feel one particular player could bring more than what Man United hoped for. The player is Odion Jude Ighalo!
When news first broke in January that Man United were developing interest in Ighalo, the world was amused at how a such a ‘big’ club could seek the services of a striker in the Chinese League.
No one, not even the staunchest Man United fan believed Ighalo would match up to the likes of Wayne Rooney or even Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He hasn’t.
However, Ighalo has scored in all three of his starts in all competitions for the Red Devils. With his thunderbolt against LASK LINZ in the Europa League, the 30-year-old Nigerian has equaled ex-striker Romelu Lukaku’s record.
In total, Ighalo has four goals for Man United – a good start to life again in England, which will please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has longed for a striker who capitalizes on defenders’ mistakes.
Another reason why the African fanbase feels Ighalo is the perfect striker for Man United is his Premier League history.
Many fans forget the Nigerian was the top scorer in England in the 2015 calendar year while playing for Watford.
Ighalo finished top of the scoring log with 30 goals (league and play-off goals only), three clear of England’s golden boy Harry Kane.
His goal-scoring history and experience in the final third of the pitch seems to have aroused Solskjaer’s interests, which is why he’s expressed optimism of him getting better.
“Odion has done really well since he came in and he is enjoying himself. He will improve and get better, but he has qualities we saw in him and we needed and we will still need those qualities next season, so let’s see what we will do,” said Solskjaer after his team thrashed LASK 5-0.
Carefully examining Solskjaer’s statement, it is clear there’s a plan being hatched to keep Ighalo at Man United.
According to English news outlet Mirror, Shanghai Shenhua will demand at least Sh1.8 billion from Man United should they want to make the Nigerian’s deal permanent.
Patrick Bastianelli, Ighalo’s agent, spoke to press of Ighalo’s great character, saying Man United was the prize for his hardwork.
“Manchester is a prize for everything he’s shown in recent years. It’s part of his character, of his great seriousness. He scored many goals. He always has a positive attitude. Odion is a person who always looks ahead, always in a positive way,” Bastianelli said.
Should the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic be contained in good time, fans are optimistic Ighalo’s form trajectory will only rise.
Possibly, he could be the best African Man United ever signed, should he keep finding the back of the net for Solskjaer’s men.