In hindsight, Odion Ighalo signing for Manchester United was one of the stranger signings for the club in recent history.
It was deadline day during the 2020 January transfer window, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær had decided that he needed a back-up striker for the second half of the season to help bolster the club’s Europa League, FA Cup and Premier League top four ambitions.
After Bournemouth refused to give an answer for a deal for Norweigan and ex-Red Joshua King, United turned to the former Watford striker and he gladly accepted the chance to play for his boyhood club.
Those initial few months actually weren’t that bad. Ighalo scored five goals – three in the FA Cup and two in the Europa League – and provided one assist in 19 matches (however the 19 matches isn’t a true representation of his minutes, as he only played 6.7 games worth of minutes).
Ighalo had amassed a sort of cult-hero status at the club during those few months, especially has he became the first ever Nigerian to play for the club that’s so greatly supported in the country, and only the 7th African player to don the famous red shirt. United ended up extending his loan deal for a further six months, before he returned to his Chinese parent club Shanghai Shenhua.
And on the subject of Nigerian strikers, Manchester United are now reportedly interested in current Napoli forward Victor Osimhen.
It is well known that Odion Ighalo is an idol of the former Lille striker, with the pair posing for a photo together with Ighalo’s Manchester United shirt while was he was playing for the club.
And, back in 2020, Victor Osimhen’s brother Andrew revealed to Complete Sports that although Osimhen ultimately signed for Napoli in July 2020 for a club-record transfer fee of €70m rising to a potential €80m, Manchester United tried to sign the striker that same summer.
“It is very true that Manchester United wanted Victor but he told me something like he had too much respect for Odion Ighalo to be competing for shirts with his senior colleague,” Andrew detailed.
“My brother holds Ighalo in high esteem and he just didn’t see himself going to Old Trafford to battle for a striking role with the highest goalscorer at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.“
Osimhen has since proven himself to become a fomidable force of attack both on a club and international level. He has scored 26 goals and provided 8 assists in 58 appearances for Napoli, and has 10 goals in 18 matches for the Super Eagles.
With Manchester United targeting a striker in the coming window, with Mason Greenwood’s suspension from duty and Edinson Cavani likely departure at the end of the season, Osimhen may be the answer they are looking for… and this time there is no Ighalo for him to compete with!