One of Nigeria’s renowned footballers, Odion Ighalo, made a significant switch at the close of January transfer season when he moved on loan from his Chinese club, Shanghai Shenhua, to one of the most famous club sides in the world, Manchester United in England. With the Nigerian striker’s return to the Premiership where he previously played for Watford, he made history by becoming the first Nigerian to play for one of the most glamorous English club sides.
United, also known as the Red Devils are however trying to find their bearing since their great coach Alex Fergusson resigned from his job in 2013 after a spell of more than 20 years.
For Ighalo, who has formally joined Man U, as the club is popularly called, he is relishing the chance to prove himself at Old Trafford. Ighalo joined United on loan until the end of the season in a surprise move as cover up forward for Marcus Rashford, who is facing an extended spell out of action after suffering a double stress fracture in his back.
Ighalo said in an interview that his joining United was a dream come true because since he was a kid “I followed and dreamt of Manchester United.”
Ighalo further revealed he had to take a pay cut in order to complete his dream Deadline Day move from Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United. He was highly sought after by some other high profile club sides in the transfer season.
A number of teams, including Tottenham and Inter Milan,had showed late interest in signing Ighalo, but his desire to become the first Nigerian to play for United superseded other considerations .
He added that his joining Manchester United ” is a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to God, and to my agent, and the coach who has given me this opportunity to be here.” Expectations are high that the Nigerian will turn the fortunes of the struggling Premiership side around.United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed confident Ighalo will thrive at the club, having scored 16 goals in 55 Premier League games during his time at Watford.
“Odion is an experienced player; he will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he’s staying with us.
“A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here” he said. Former United striker Mark Hughes expressed the belief Ighalo will offer the club something they are desperately lacking at the moment.”
In order to meet the high expectations of the club Ighalo has been undergoing a special fitness regime following his return to English football. This is so because the 30-year-old player has not played competitively since the start of December and is currently facing a race against the clock to regain match sharpness ahead of United’s fixture against Chelsea.
The Nigerian is set to be part of the United side which travels to a warm weather training camp later this week as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side prepare for a crucial match at Stamford Bridge on Monday 17 February. The Nigerian forward will train with the first-team squad all of this week,
Ighalo took part in a session early in the week which saw him undergo a number of different exercises as he hopes to build his overall fitness levels ahead of a packed fixture schedule. Expectations are high on the Nigerian striker, and much depends on his fitness level which he should take seriously for the task ahead of him. He has a big task to work towards moving Manchester United from their struggling position to top flight of English club football again.