The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of loss to football clubs and after admitting to have cost them a whopping ₦13 billion, English Premier League’s elite outfit, Manchester United Football Club (often referred to as Man U, Man Utd or simply, United) is about to incur another loss as it is struggling to find a way to retain their Nigerian international loan signing, Odion Jude Ighalo for the remainder of the season. Ighalo, a striker with the Chinese football club Shanghai Shenhua, has only played three times in the English Premier League as substitute, but in all competitions has scored four times and assisted one goal in 8 appearances, and only three of those 8 appearances did he start the match from kick-off, indicating that he is a prolific forward player whom Man Utd would not be willing to lose as there are still several matches remaining to be played before the end of the 2019/2020 season.
The loan contract will be expiring by the end of this month, but the football matches will not return until June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nigerian national, who is athletic and can play with both foot, was signed as cover for local protégé Marcus Rashford who sustained back injury while in form. Although, it is expected that Rashford may be back to fitness by the time football matches resume; it is important that the club does not take risks as they are short of fit strikers. The club management are considering an extension to the loan agreement, but have fallen short of asking to sign him on, on a permanent basis.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manager and Head Coach, would prefer to have the 30-year old until the end of the season because of the crowded fixtures awaiting the club, who are still in the running in three competitions. The club faces a possibility of 18 matches in 9 weeks when football matches resume in the UK.
Ighalo, who claims to be a lifelong fan and supporter of Manchester United, scored twice against Derby County Football Club in the FA Cup, and also scored twice in two Europa League matches. He would most probably cherish the opportunity to stay on, at least until the end of the season.
However, Shanghai Shenhua are proving difficult, as the Chinese Super League club is insisting that their player returns as agreed by the end of May, 2020.
Ighalo resumed for training with United last week and will most definitely report to Carrington this week as the club explore available options to keep him until the end of the season. Manchester United are currently fifth on the league table.
The difficulty in the negotiations could be as a result of financial situations. Switch Nigeria had reported last week that Man Utd admitted that COVID-19 has cost them as much as ₦13.2 billion. See our article here.