Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that Odion Ighalo’s loan deal will be made permanent if the player is good enough.
Speaking at the Chelsea pre-match press conference, the Norwegian was clear that Ighalo’s future at Old Trafford is in his own hands.
‘It’s a loan, but when you’re in the door, and if you impress, it gives you a chance’ Solskjaer said. ‘If you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, of course there’s a chance we’ll look at extending things and signing.’
If there’s one coach who knows what United can expect from Ighalo it’s Quique Flores, who managed the 30-year-old at both Watford and Shanghai Shenhua.
Flores told The Times ‘As a coach you could easily fall in love with Odion Ighalo. When I was in charge of him at Watford, he spent extra time in the gym working on fitness and would ask questions about tactics and systems after training. Or he would want to know the small details about the best way to deal with opposing defenders. In that regard he was exceptional.’
- Picture: Odion Ighalo arrives at Manchester United training ground
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer discusses Odion Ighalo plans for Chelsea
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivers positive Odion Ighalo news
Ighalo was prolific for the Hornets in 2015 before enduring a barren spell. The Spaniard has nothing but praise for how the player handled the goal drought. ‘I didn’t feel it was him but the team in general finding it more difficult to score. [Ighalo told me] “Coach, I realise that the type of moves I am making are the same, I am getting the same options, but the ball is not going in, so I can’t do too much. I need to focus and try to change the dynamic.” This kind of mature and honest conversation is not normal between coaches and players.’
The Nigerian has left a positive impression on former teammates as well. Watford defender Adrian Mariappa has opened up on his impressions of Ighalo in an interview with SBNation. ‘He’s an incredibly humble person and a really nice guy; very well respected in the group’ said the Watford man. ‘He’s someone who achieved a lot in a short space of time, who just wanted to play and score goals. He was a refreshing character around the place and someone I enjoyed working with.
‘When he needs to say something, he’ll say something … He was well respected so everyone would listen to what he had to say and he earned that right by how well he had done for the team. But around the place he’s always smiling. He’s not the type to be loud with regard to banter, but he’s a good hearted person and has good energy.’
Ighalo will put on the red shirt for the first time tonight at Stamford Bridge and fulfil his boyhood dream to play for United. Due to the restricted amount of training he’s had with the rest of the team, his debut is likely to come from the bench.
Odion Ighalo is set to make his debut for United in tonight’s game against Chelsea. But how much do you know about Man United’s African players over the years? Take our quiz to test your knowledge!