Thursday 28

Manchester United

Man Utd loanee Ighalo offered lucrative extension to stay with Shanghai Shenhua

26th March 2020, 13:29 by Cameron Pope

Shanghai Shenhua are attempting to lure on-loan Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo to stay in the Chinese Super League with a two-year contract extension.

The new deal is reported to be worth over £400,000 per week and would see the Nigerian – who joined the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side over the January transfer window – rival ex-Chelsea midfielder Oscar for top spot in the league’s highest earners list.

Ighalo, a boyhood Red Devils fan, was brought to Manchester after an injury to Marcus Rashford. The young England international has been sidelined with a back injury since early this year, sustained in the 1-0 FA Cup victory over Wolves at Old Trafford.

Former Watford striker Ighalo is yet to find the net for United in four league outings but has hit the target four times in as many games across other competitions, with two goals in the Europa League and a further two in the FA Cup.

To many, his arrival in Greater Manchester came as a surprise. Although his finishing prowess – evident from his 40 goals and 11 assists in a century of appearances for the Hornets – has never been called into question, a three-season spell in China with Changchun Yatai and current club Shanghai Shenhua saw him fall off the radar.

His latest season in the Far East saw him strike 10 times in 17 league matches for a struggling side, the Flower of Shanghai ending the season in a lowly thirteenth position, just three places off the bottom rung.

The proposed new deal emphasises the Chinese club’s keenness to bring their frontman back to Shanghai, although the opportunity to turn out at the Theatre of Dreams for another season could swing the decision for 30-year-old Ighalo – who accepted a pay cut in order to secure his dream winter move – should United come calling.

And with the current COVID-19 pandemic – which originated in China in late 2019 – still wreaking havoc on sports schedules across every continent, the security of the Premier League may just tip the balance in the Red Devils’ favour.

They may now, however, be forced to up their own offer, if they want to be assured of securing the former Udinese man’s services.

Chinese Super League clubs are no strangers to spending big. Ex-Zenit winger Hulk, 2014 World Cup runner-up Ezequiel Lavezzi and even Marko Arnautovic, formerly of Stoke and West Ham, have all been tempted in recent seasons.

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Cameron Pope

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