Why Manchester United's move for Odion Ighalo makes sense
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With literally hours to go in the January transfer window, Manchester United fans were finally given their Bruno Fernandes wish. The midfielder looked pretty lively on debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers, though I'm sure there's far more to come from the 25-year-old.
The 20-time Premier League champions weren't just content with one addition, mind. Former Watford City striker Odion Ighalo would complete a dream switch to Old Trafford, fulfilling a boyhood fantasy. He'd go to sleep a Shanghai Shenhua player and wake up a Red Devil. Football is crazy sometimes, eh?
Understandably, the initial reaction leaves Reds fans feeling underwhelmed. With respect to the Chinese Super League, why is a club of United's size doing their shopping in the Far East? However, that's just the stark reality of the current situation at the Theatre of Dreams...
First and foremost, buying in the January transfer window is notoriously difficult. More often than not, the best-of-the-best aren't going to be available for transfer until the summer. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to get creative. Countryman Joshua King was linked after another fellow Norweigan, Erling Braut Haaland, chose Borussia Dortmund instead. In the end, United settled on Ighalo for two reasons; prior Premier League experience and a love for Manchester United. After all, the 30-year-old Nigerian is likely feeling the exact same pain that Reds fans all across the world are dealing with right now.
Solskjaer's hand was forced. In an ideal world, the Baby Faced Assasin would've been able to wait until the summer before making any further moves. The Marcus Rashford injury jolted United into action sooner than they would have liked, but football is unpredictable at times and heading towards the business end of the season with only two fit senior strikers (Anthony Martial & Mason Greenwood), would've been career suicide for the Reds gaffer.
Ighalo offers something different. United's main problem this season has been the lack of a focal point. Far too often we've seen Martial sit too deep, leaving the opposing penalty area completely bereft of players in red. Ighalo's style is solely based around staying central, holding up play and being that target man that others can aim at.
Now I know what you're thinking. That begs the question as to why United allowed Romelu Lukaku to leave in the summer if they're just going to sign a poorer version of the Belgian six months later. I feel your pain, though that's a debate for another day entirely. I guess Solskjaer is showing a willingness to right his wrong though...
For all the brilliance of youth, sometimes it's nice to have those reliable 'old' heads to call upon. Ighalo has experience aplenty, with United being the eleventh senior club he'll play for during a pretty prolific career (348 appearances, 136 goals).
Simply put, this is a no-lose situation for United. It's a loan deal with no obligation to buy while United are only paying a third of Ighalo's wages. For that extra body, while competing on three fronts, it definitely feels like a smart decision from a club who have made their fair share of errors over the last half-decade.
You heard it here first, Ighalo will come up trumps for United at least once before the season's end. Be it a derby day winner or a huge goal in the Europa League, the first-ever Nigerian to play for the Old Trafford outfit will leave his mark - make no mistake about it...