EPL striker Odion Ighalo could be set for an extended temporary stay with Manchester United according to reports. The former Nigerian international arrived at Old Trafford in the eleventh hour on deadline day on a loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua. His current contract is set to expire this Sunday, but it is believed that both he and United are keen on an extended stay in Manchester.
The Nigerian, who has prior EPL experience with Watford, was brought in as a back-up centre-forward as the club were short on numbers. This was in the wake of Romelu Lukaku's big-money departure to Inter Milan. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood were the only recognized centre-forwards available at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's disposal after the Belgian's departure.
It is now believed that the Red Devils are keen to extend Ighalo's stay in the EPL until January 2021, as opposed to until the end of the current season. Goal report that the Nigerian could finish a chunk of the 2020/21 season in United red.
Ighalo's arrival on deadline day in January raised eyebrows as Solskjaer appeared to be on a different transfer strategy.
However, it turned out to be a smart move as both Rashford and Martial have faced their share of injury lay-offs in the current campaign. Greenwood, for all his talent and promise, is still a youngster who could require time to be fully integrated into the first-team setup. The short-term nature of this deal would've suited all parties ideally as Shanghai Shenhua's prized asset got to fulfil a lifelong dream to play at Old Trafford. The Nigerian is a self-confessed Red Devils fan.
There has reportedly been a 'breakthrough' in negotiations to keep him at the club for a more extended period over the last week. That could see Ighalo finish the current campaign in the EPL and return to China in the same window as he arrived. In his eight games so far, Ighalo has scored four and set up a further one.
EPL giants United continue hunt for attacking reinforcements
Manchester United have regularly made headlines over the last year or so as they look to bolster a relatively weak attacking line. Rashford is growing more comfortable playing as a wing-forward with each passing game.
Martial, on the other hand, is a supremely talented forward but has struggled to remain fit for a 38-game season. Greenwood, who turned 18 in October 2019, requires time to grow into his role as an all-out centre-forward.
Given these circumstances, it is no secret that the EPL club have been in the market for a suitable attacker after Lukaku left England for Italy. One name that was repeatedly linked with a potential move to United was Erling Håland. The devastating Norwegian forward shares an excellent relationship with current EPL manager Solskjaer and appeared set for a move to Old Trafford.
Håland ultimately chose Borussia Dortmund over the EPL giants to hone his skills in the youth-friendly Bundesliga. The former Molde striker has had an excellent start to life in Germany alongside fellow Manchester United Jadon Sancho.
RB Leipzig's Timo Werner is reportedly another forward that the former EPL champions are keen on. However, he is said to be holding out for a move to the current champions-in-waiting Liverpool.