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Why bringing in Odion Ighalo was a good move by Man United

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To the surprise of many, Manchester United announced the signing of former Watford striker Odion Ighalo from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for a 6-month loan until the end of the season, with the move being a result of United’s sever lack of options up front thanks to the sale of Romelu Lukaku and the injury to Marcus Rashford. The 30-year-old is yet to make his debut for United, yet many people are already writing Ighalo off and ruling the transfer as useless and somewhat comical. We, on the other hand, are excited to see whether Ighalo could prove his doubters wrong at Old Trafford and we’ve looked at why the transfer was a good bit of business from United.

Difficult to make signings in January

Of course, some of the biggest Premier League signings have been made during the January window, with Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Bruno Fernandes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being some of the finest examples. However, it’s not uncommon knowledge that it can be tricky to make signings during the winter window, as clubs are naturally reluctant to part ways with their players without getting in a replacement. This was the case during deadline day before Igalo was announced as United were heavily linked with a move for their former player Josh King, with the deal ultimately reaching no conclusion due to Bournemouth’s lack of time to find a replacement. It’s clear as daylight that United are severely lacking attacking options, this way the case when Marcus Rashford was fit, but United look devoid of any attacking presence since Rashford suffered his injury, so to bring in a permanent striker should be one of their main priorities in summer, but for now, they’ve opted for a short-term solution.

Experienced in the Premier League

It may be a few years since Ighalo last played his trade in the Premier League since leaving Watford for China in January of 2017, but considering that United opted to bring in a temporary striker for the remainder of the season, it was vital that they brought it a player who is familiar and experienced with the intensity and style of the Premier League. In his 100 appearances for Watford, Ighalo helped himself to 40 goals and provided 11 assists, including 15 goals and 5 assists in 37 Premier League appearances during the 15/16 season. We’d be surprised if Ighalo recreates the form he displayed at Watford at Old Trafford, but he knows how to score goals in the Premier League and shouldn’t need any time to become used to the intensity and physicality of the Premier League.

Give competition to Martial

Since Marcus Rashford suffered his injury against Wolves in the FA Cup, United have relied on Anthony Martial to be their main striker for the past couple of weeks, and it’s fair to say that Martial hasn’t stepped up to the occasion, as he has only scored 1 goal in his last 5 appearances for United, with his only goal coming against Tranmere in the FA Cup. The poor goalscoring form from Martial is mirrored by his movement and attitude on the pitch as he has recently shown little movement and desire, causing many Manchester United fans to become frustrated with Martial. It’s clear that Martial needs to improve his performances, one way of doing so is bringing in another striker to provide Martial with competition and convey to him that he isn’t guaranteed a place in the starting 11 and needs to work hard for his game time. The signing of Ighalo is likely to give Martial a wake-up call that he isn’t guaranteed to start any game for United as Ighalo is an experienced striker familiar with Premier League football, and push him to up his game.

Worst case scenario

If we prove to be wrong about Ighalo and he turns out to be a massive flop at Old Trafford, then the worse case scenario for United is that he fails to make any impact for them, then returns to Chinese at the end of his loan deal. It’s clear that Solskjaer and United were looking for a temporary fix for the remainder of the season in response to the injury to Marcus Rashford, with a more permanent striker being a key target during the summer transfer window. At the end of the day, United are risking very little by bringing in Igalo as they haven't committed the striker to a permanent contract with a big wage, instead opting to bring in a temporary option to see them through to the end of the season.