FORMER Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo is planning to end his one year sojourn with English Premier League side Manchester United today and join Saudi Arabian Pro League table-toppers Al-Shabab.
Ighalo, 31, joined Manchester United a year ago from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, initially on a six month loan. Due to a combination of issues including getting him back to fitness and ensuring he was not affected by the coronavirus, Ighalo did not start any game following his arrival on January 31 until February 27 last year.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic altered things dramatically as the suspension of the league meant Manchester United did not get much use of the striker during his loan spell. When the league resumed, Manchester United made fresh request to Shanghai Shenhua that Ighalo’s loan spell be extended, leading to the striker remaining at the club for a full calendar year.
With the year now over and Ighalo being surplus to requirements after Manchester United bought Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations top scorer is now poised to move on. Apparently Al-Shabab and Shanghai Shenhua have reached a club-to-club agreement for the signing of the striker.
Ighalo is currently holidaying in Dubai following his departure from Manchester United last week but will jet off to Riyadh today to complete the formalities of his transfer to Al-Shabab, having agreed personal terms with the club. He will put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year deal if he passes his medical and could be unveiled by his new employers before Thursday.
Although Ighalo was one of the best paid players at Shanghai Shenhua, he agreed to move to Al-Shabab simply because he wanted a change of scenery after his stay at Manchester United. While at Shanghai Shenhua he scored 10 goals in 19 appearances but could not turn down the offer of playing for Manchester United who he supported as a boy.
Despite an initial good start for Manchester United, Ighalo failed to get much game time there and did not score any Premier League goal for the club. It was only in cup tournaments that he managed to find the back of the net but despite his agony in Lancashire, he said he enjoyed the experience as he is a Manchester United fan.