For the most part clubs tend to find it difficult to bring in the right player during the January transfer window. Managers aren’t as willing to part ways with their key players halfway into a season when these players could be key to winning them the league or keeping them out of that dastardly drop zone.
Manchester United are very aware of this with a patchy record at best during the January window. Nemanja Vidic, Juan Mata and Patrice Evra have all being inspired signings throughout the years. However, the likes of Bebe, Zoran Tosic and Dong Fangzhuo failed to make their mark in Manchester to put it lightly.
Due to leading man Marcus Rashford being ruled out for a lengthy spell with a back injury United found themselves prowling the January market again this season in the hunt for a goal scorer. Erling Haaland, Solomon Rondon and even a returning Carlos Tevez to name a few were all linked with a move to Old Trafford.
In the end Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to bring in Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo on a loan move from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Greenland Shenhua until the end of the season which raised a few eyebrows. Even before he made his short debut against Chelsea, he was branded a panic buy by many. Yes, he was certainly not on the top of any United fans wish list but maybe Odion Ighalo might just be the short-term quick fix that Manchester United need.
Ighalo has a decent goals per game ratio popping up with regular goals during his time in places like Norway, Spain and China at club level. Most importantly he scored 36 goals in 90 games for Watford in the Premier League during his spell at the club from 2014 until 2017. While no means a fantastic return for a striker it certainly is a better return then other imports that have came into the league in the past. Away from the goals he brings a physical presence up top at 6 ft 2 that United have been lacking since the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan in 2019.
Going by his time at Watford he is most comfortable with his back to goal holding up the ball for incoming attacking players making advancing runs forward, music to the ears of lads like Anthony Martial and Dan James. So even if he does go through a goal drought like he has in the past this ability to hold the ball up for his team mates will benefit the other attacking players in the team to get on the ball in advance areas of the pitch.
Another thing Ighalo has is genuine passion and love for the club being a boyhood fan of Manchester United back in his native Nigeria. I’m not talking about the passion certain players claim to have every time they are unveiled at their new club *cough* Robbie Keane *cough* but passion only a fan could have for their club. Passion that has seen Ighalo take a pay cut just to get this loan deal to Manchester United over the line.
Now saying that he is coming from China who quite frankly pay players silly money so he is still making bank, but you won’t see many modern-day footballers make a move that doesn’t financially benefit them. This enthusiasm will also be a breath of fresh air for the United faithful in the stands with numerous stories coming out about player unrest at the club. You know if nothing else he will play for the badge and while most of this point is a cliche it will see him gain good will with his fellow red devils on and off the pitch.
Ultimately if he has any chance of making an impact, he needs to hit the ground running with an early goal at United and force himself into the plans of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Now come July we may well add Odion Ighalo to the list of failed January signings to enter Manchester who will be shipped back to China as quick as he came. If that does happen this is how getting him in on a short-term loan is the smart move.
Ole and Ed Woodward could of thrown money at the situation like they have done in the past. If it doesn’t work, he’ll be gone by July anyway and Manchester United didn’t just throw away more eye watering amounts of money on another flop, oh hello Alexis Sanchez. With his experience and previous performances in England he has the tools to make an impact in this short spell and him netting seven goals or so will justify the move.
Plus, remember the last time Manchester United made a six-month loan deal on a striker in his 30s with experience in British football and coming in from a less competitive league. That being Henrik Larsson and he was well received by all at Old Trafford. No pressure Odion, no pressure.