Nigerian striker’s faces Manchester United exit

Odion Ighalo’s loan spell at Manchester United looks set to end as English side and Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, fail to agree
Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 27, 2020. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Former Nigerian international Odion Ighalo’s loan spell at Manchester United looks set to end on the 31st of June after reports emerged that the English side and Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, his original employers, are struggling to agree an extension.

The 30-year-old arrived at Old Trafford in January on a loan deal until the end of the season. However, The suspension of football due to the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent delay to ending the season has seen the Premier League agree that clubs can temporarily extend contracts of players whose deals are coming to an end this summer.

Ighalo was signed as cover for the injured England striker Marcus Rashford who is expected to return from a serious back injury when the league resumes next month. United are desperate to agree on a short extension to his loan as the former champions are still in three competitions and could play up to 18 games in just over two months.

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Ighalo’s return to England has proved a success, with the former Watford striker scoring four goals in United’s last five matches, including a memorable volley in the 5-0 win at LASK Linz in the UEFA Europa League on 12 March. However, the Chinese Super League is expected to begin next month, having been delayed from its usual February commencement, and Shenhua want the forward to return.

Man United mananger Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had indicated he would like to make the deal for the 30-year-old permanent. “Odion has done really well – we need those qualities for next season so let’s see,” he said in March.

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Shenhua are howevere very ‘determined to get Ighalo back’ that they have offered him a two-year contract extension with a significant pay increase. The Chinese side are also reportedly willing to sell the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations top scorer for a fee in excess of £20million. However, it is now believed that Manchester United have now decided not to sign Ighalo on a permanent deal.

United’s players returned to training at the club’s Carrington base last week after the go-ahead was given for socially distanced sessions.

Each club is regularly testing their players and staff for coronavirus, with the latest round of results released over the weekend showing two positive results after 996 tests.

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