Odion Ighalo deserves praise for settling in so quickly at Manchester United
- The football he was playing earlier in the Chinese Super League was not of the same standard.
Manchester United's Odion Ighalo, signed from the Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in the January transfer window by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has settled in very well at Old Trafford. The Nigerian striker has ensured that the fans of the Red Devils did not miss the services of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, and along with youngster Mason Greenwood, kept United's attacking line filled with vitality.
The 30-year-old from Lagos has four goals and one assist to his name so far this season, and one can only expect the numbers to grow. He hasn't started a game in the Premier League yet, but has come off the bench four times and has a pass success percentage of 90 in the 61 minutes he was on the field. Ighalo has contributed to the United cause whenever and wherever he has got the opportunity.
The lifelong Manchester United fan, who had earlier played for Watford in the Premier League, has adapted very well to the demands of manager Solskjaer to come off the bench whenever required. In the UEFA Europa League, Ighalo has been fantastic for United, teaming up with his teammates for brilliant displays of attacking football. He has heeded Solskjaer's call whenever the Norwegian has decided to rest first-team regulars and asked him to step up.
Credit must be given to Ighalo for adapting so quickly to European football, mainly because the football he was playing earlier in the Chinese Super League was not of the same standard. To be able to come from such a competition and adapt to the physical and technical rigours of European football wholeheartedly speaks volumes about the quality and gifts he possess.
"It was essential (to sign Ighalo)," Solskjaer had said when Ighalo was first signed in January.
"I thought, with Marcus Rashford out for so long, the demands on Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood would be high. We got an experienced goalscorer, top scorer, in the Africa Cup of Nations last season. He's a man with a big smile, a great personality, and a big Manchester United fan. He's going to savor this, enjoy this and give absolutely everything for us."
Well, the Norwegian has been correct so far in that Ighalo has been fantastic for Manchester United, given them an added cushion of depth and played every time with a big smile on his face. United can now realistically look forward to signing him on a permanent deal.
Ighalo is everything that Solskjaer was looking for: Hhe is a striker who can play with his back towards the goal and is someone whose finishing skills are rated very highly. Anyone who has seen him ply his trade for United over the last couple of months will agree that he has a penchant for finding the back of the net as he more often than not converts opportunities presented to him.
Other United players have also benefited from playing alongside Ighalo. He is someone who will be ready to convert chances given to him, and this gives a massive boost in confidence to playmakers like Bruno Fernandes and Fred. They now know that once they create opportunities, they have someone at the front of the attack to make goals out of them.
Published 15 Mar 2020, 21:23 IST