Manchester United are reportedly unable to extend Odion Ighalo’s loan deal beyond its original date as his home club Shanghai Shenhua want him to return.
The 30-year-old scored four goals in three starts for the Red Devils as he hit the ground running in his loan spell, which was meant to run until the end of the season.
However, football’s postponement due to the coronavirus crisis has meant that the season will continue beyond the date set into the contract.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Superleague is due to start its 2020 season in July, overlapping the completion of Manchester United’s 2019/20 season.
And according to Sky Sports, Shenhua want their player back for the start of their season. As such, they are unwilling to extend the loan.
The Red Devils are therefore left with a dilemma. They can either buy Ighalo on a permanent deal – Sky claim this would cost £20 million although elsewhere a figure of around £15 million has been reported – or they will be forced to return the player when the loan contract end date is reached.
There seems to be some confusion as to what that date is, with some sources such as Sky claiming it is June 30th and others such as The Manchester Evening News and Goal.com claiming it is 31st May. If it is the latter, the situation will need to be resolved within the next 21 days.
Ighalo is desperately keen to finish the season with the club he has supported since he was a boy and is reported to be willing to take a huge pay cut to join the Reds permanently. However, with Marcus Rashford now fit again and Mason Greenwood knocking loudly at the first team’s door, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may feel it would be wrong at this stage to sign a player he does not intend to use on a regular basis.
The Nigerian became a cult hero overnight at Old Trafford due to a combination of great performances, a wonder goal in the Europa League and his obvious sheer enthusiasm at playing for the club. It would be a hugely anticlimactic end to his United career if he couldn’t at least see out this season, but as things stand that is looking the most likely outcome.
United might have to finish their Premier League season at neutral grounds as the authorities try to ensure player safety. How much do you know about those neither-home-nor-away games the Red Devils have played in the past? Take our quiz below to find out.