Manchester United confirm Odion Ighalo loan signing

Former Watford striker completes shock late move from China’s Shanghai Shenhua

Odion Ighalo is set to join Manchester United on loan. Photograph: Javier Soriano/Getty/AFP

Odion Ighalo is set to join Manchester United on loan. Photograph: Javier Soriano/Getty/AFP

 

Manchester United have pulled off the remarkable last-minute loan signing of Odion Ighalo on a frantic transfer deadline day on which Ole Gunnar Solskjær became ever more desperate to sign a replacement centre-forward.

In one of the more memorable winter window deals the 30-year-old joined until the end of the season from China’s Shanghai Shenhua. The deal will not include an option to buy.

Ighalo has two seasons of Premier League experience, having played for Watford between 2014 and 2017, and is an established Nigeria international. In his first season at Vicarage Road he scored 20 goals in 35 Championship matches, before managing 16 in 55 top-flight appearances in the following campaigns.

Yet the signing of a forward who has played in Chinese football for the past three years is a surprise, with the manager Solskjær forced to act due to Marcus Rashford’s long-term back injury. This left him with only Anthony Martial and the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood as frontline No 9s.

Ighalo earns a basic of at least £200,000 a week, though how much of the salary United will have to source is unclear. Despite China’s coronavirus crisis, the striker is expected to travel to Manchester in the coming days to bolster United’s forward ranks.

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At the start of the day Solskjær believed a permanent deal or loan for Bournemouth’s Joshua King could be achieved.

United had an initial offer for the 28-year-old turned down but were given reason to believe an increased bid could succeed when Eddie Howe said morning that, much as he did not want to lose King, the decision on whether to sell was not in his hands.

Bournemouth’s manager also indicated that King, who was with United as a youngster but made only one first-team appearance, was keen to return to Old Trafford.

“It’s not my call at the end of the day,” Howe said. “It’s going to be between the chief executive and the owner of the football club and that’s why I said at the start I don’t want to go too deep into it because a lot of these things are out of my control.

“All I can say is I love Josh as a player and a person. I respect him greatly and I know his situation – I know what Manchester United means to him with his history connected to the club. So I understand his position. Let’s wait and see.”

Yet as Bournemouth were unable to find a suitable replacement if they were to allow King to leave the deal fell through. The Norwegian is one of only three senior strikers at Bournemouth, with Dominic Solanke and Callum Wilson the others.

On Thursday United did sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon. Solskjær, asked why the midfielder was not bought in summer, said: “It’s about timings, priorities and also valuation, money.”

Solskjær confirmed Fernandes would be in Saturday’s squad for the visit of Wolves. - Guardian

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