Odion Ighalo: Manchester United striker could leave before season ends with loan set to expire

Ighalo loan expires at end of May, with season set to be extended

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Tuesday 24 March 2020 13:40 GMT
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Odion Ighalo could have played his last game for Manchester United, unless the club renegotiate and extend his loan deal beyond the end of May.

Ighalo arrived at Old Trafford on a temporary move from Shanghai Shenhua on the final day of the January transfer window to provide cover up front until the end of the season.

But the suspension of English and European football following the global coronavirus pandemic has cast doubt on Ighalo’s future.

The Nigerian’s loan initially covered United’s last potential game of the season – the Europa League final on 27 May – but the 2019-20 season now looks likely to extend into the summer.

And although the Premier League season has been suspended until at least 30 April, top-flight football is not expected to return until much later.

Ighalo’s loan agreement expires on 31 May and United would be required to renegotiate with Shanghai Shenhua in order to keep him at the club.

The 30-year-old will otherwise miss United’s final nine Premier League games and the climax to their FA Cup and Europa League campaigns.

The 30-year-old – a boyhood United fan – was initially viewed as a short-term stop gap to be used while Marcus Rashford recovers from a long-term back injury.

But Ighalo has made an impact at Old Trafford, scoring four goals in eight appearances and becoming a favourite among supporters.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talked up the prospect of retaining Ighalo’s “qualities” for the 2020-21 season before the recent suspension of football due to the coronavirus.

“Odion has come in really well and he will improve and get better,” he said. “But he has qualities we saw in him and needed and we need those qualities for next season.

“He knows his job and role in the team, and he’s very good with his back to goal. He’s a great link player, but maybe the best thing about him is his personality. He’s got the whole lot really.”

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