‘Odion Knows How Much We Value Him’: Solskjaer Hails Ighalo’s Impact

Norwich City's English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP
Norwich City’s English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has poured encomiums on former Super Eagles star, Odion Ighalo following his performance for the side on Saturday. 

The Nigerian scored the opening goal for United in their quarter-final FA Cup win against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Ighalo scored the goal in the first five minutes of the match when he jabbed the ball over Tim Krul in goal for Norwich, his fifth in four games for the club, leaving Solskjaer proud of the former Watford man.

READ ALSO: French Club Appoint Ex-Super Eagles Star Enyeama As Goalkeeper Trainer

“Odion knows how much we value him in and around the dressing room and, of course, on the pitch,” the coach told the club’s website.

Solskjaer described Ighalo as “a goalscorer and a poacher” who is strong on the ball.

He noted that the striker gives the team options and “the chance to rotate with Marcus [Rashford], Anthony [Martial], and Mason [Greenwood] so they can get a rest and be fresh for every game.”

Repaying United’s Trust

Ighalo signed a loan extension with United on June 1, a deal which would see him stay at the Premier League club until the end of the season.

Ighalo’s initial loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua expired at the end of May, but the 30-year-old has been rewarded for an impressive return of four goals in eight appearances for United before football was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“Manchester United have reached agreement with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to extend the loan deal for Odion Ighalo,” United said in a statement.

“He will now remain with the Reds until 31 January 2021, enabling him to build on an impressive start to life with the club he supported as a boy.”

Mourinho Meets Familiar Foes Man Utd As Liverpool Resume Title Quest

Mourinho Blames National Coaches For United's Injury Woes
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures from the touchline after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 27, 2018.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is hoping to exact revenge on former employers Manchester United, while Liverpool aim to move within one win of the title as the Premier League’s return kicks up a gear across a four-day weekend of action.

The English top flight got its first taste of empty stands and strict hygiene protocols on Wednesday as Aston Villa’s goalless draw with Sheffield United and Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal restarted the campaign.

Despite the muted atmosphere, there remains plenty to play for at both ends of the table with the clash between Tottenham and United pivotal in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Both sit outside the top four with nine games remaining. However, United’s position in fifth could be good enough to secure a return to the Champions League if Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition is unsuccessful.

Spurs could prove to be the biggest winners of the three-month lockdown.

Before the break, Mourinho claimed he could not wait for the season to finish as injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn appeared to have ended their campaigns.

All four are now fit again and victory would lift Tottenham to within one point of the club that sacked Mourinho in December 2018.

“The reality is we are now in a better position to where we were before,” said Mourinho.

“We got Harry and Sonny back, the players with the best stats in terms of scoring and assists. They give us this kind of attacking power.”

United were the form side in the league prior to the lockdown.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are unbeaten in 11 games but also benefited from the break as Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba return from long-term injuries.

Rashford has made waves for his power off the field with a campaign to provide vulnerable children with food vouchers forcing a British government U-turn.

But the England international is desperate to get back on more familiar ground after being sidelined by a back injury since January.

“It’s been a long time, but I think I needed it,” Rashford told Sky Sports.

“Within my body I definitely feel confident again and ready to play games. The timing has worked out well for me.”

Solskjaer said Pogba is “raring to go” after an injury-ravaged season and could be paired with January signing Bruno Fernandes in the United midfield for the first time.

– Liverpool excitement building –

City’s victory over Arsenal means Liverpool cannot seal a first league title in 30 years against Everton on Sunday, much to the blue side of Merseyside’s relief.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are just two wins away from the historic feat and victory at Goodison Park will allow them the chance to win the league on home soil when Crystal Palace visit Anfield on Wednesday.

“You can feel it,” said Klopp of the excitement building around his side’s return. “I feel the intensity everywhere.”

The match will take place in Liverpool despite fears over fans congregating outside both stadiums in the city. Goodison and Anfield are separated by less than a mile.

Klopp has urged his supporters to be “the best stay at home fans in the world”.

The earliest Liverpool could now be crowned champions is on Monday should the Reds win and City lose at home to Burnley.

At the other end of the table, Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth sit in the relegation zone, but just three points separate second-bottom Villa from Brighton in 15th.

Rock-bottom Norwich can ramp up the pressure on those above them even more should they close to within three points of safety in the first match of the weekend against Southampton.

Friday (all times GMT)

Norwich v Southampton (1700), Tottenham v Manchester United (1915)

Saturday

Watford v Leicester (1130), Brighton v Arsenal (1400), West Ham v Wolves (1630), Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (1845)

Sunday

Newcastle v Sheffield United (1300), Aston Villa v Chelsea (1515), Everton v Liverpool (1800)

Monday

Manchester City v Brighton (1900)

Nigerian Star Ighalo Eager To Extend Man United Deal

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

Former Super Eagles star, Odion Ighalo, is eager to extend his stay with Manchester United until the end of the Premier League season. 

Ighalo, 30, joined the Premier League side from Chinese Super League outfit, Shanghai Shenhua in January and his contract with the Old Trafford side will expire on May 31.

The Premier League is expected to restart in June after going on a break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but with the Chinese league set to resume, the Nigerian may return to the Asian nation.

READ ALSO: Football To Allow Five Substitutions When Play Restarts

Staying back with Red Devils until the end of the season, however, is something the former Watford man wants

“I would like to finish the season if it’s possible,” Ighalo was quoted as telling BBC Sport.

The player noted that before the season went on a break, he was in a good form, and scoring goals for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

According to him, he gave his best to the team and is hoping that play will restart soon.

Reflecting on the team’s form before the league was paused, Ighalo said United was having a “good momentum” but expressed worries that since he is on loan, his time with the club may be cut short.

The Premier League giants are keen to extend Ighalo’s contract with the player having scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions for the club.

Clubs and players are passing through a lot this period as they have not been able to do what they love, according to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) highest goalscorer.

He explained that as efforts are being made to restart and finish the season, contract talks would not be on the radar at the moment.

“I just want everyone to be safe and see what the future holds,” he added.

With nine games remaining, Solskjaer’s men are fifth on the league log and Ighalo hopes the Premier League will take the right decision and restart play when it is safe to do so.

Clubs in England’s top division will meet on Monday to discuss a possible resumption date for the season.

Man Utd Must Be Ready For Return To ‘Normality’ – Solskjaer

File: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer throws the ball back in from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on January 19, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking at transfer targets during the lockdown and believes Manchester United are well-placed to exploit any knock-on effects of the coronavirus suspension.

With training and matches halted in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Norwegian has used some of this unexpected free time to pinpoint how best to improve the squad.

Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish are among the names liked with the club, with Solskjaer working with United’s staff to fine-tune targets.

READ ALSO: Real Madrid Players Accept Up To 20% Pay Cut

“Football is going to get back to normality at one point, and it’s very important we’re ready when that happens,” the United manager told Sky Sports.

“We want to be the best at everything, and of course now is a chance to spend more time, you discuss players, discuss plans.”

Asked whether United can exploit the transfer market when football returns, Solskjaer said: “Who knows how the market is going to react to this? Who knows which clubs need to sell players?

“There might be just a situation there where you can exploit, and I know that we at Man United, we are one of the biggest, and the biggest, financially well-off.

“I’m sure we are capable, when we get back to normality, that we can do the business that we want to.”

Solskjaer’s team last played on March 12 against Austrian side LASK in a Europa League last-16 first-leg game played behind closed doors, which they won 5-0.

Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are likely to have recovered from their injury lay-offs by the time football resumes.

“In a way, they have got an opportunity here to play a bigger part in this season than they had hoped,” said Solskjaer.

“And they are big players for us, some of the most important players.”

United are currently fifth in the Premier League table, chasing a top-four berth that would guarantee entry into next season’s Champions League.

“We can kick on, I’m sure we can get a good start and climb up that table if we keep doing the right thing,” said Solskjaer.

“Even with the FA Cup and Europa League, if that does go ahead, we’ve got good chances there.”

Chinese Side Shanghai Shenhua Offer Ighalo New £400,000 Per Week Deal

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

Chinese Super League side, Shanghai Shenhua, has offered Nigerian striker, Odion Ighalo, a £400,000 per week deal. 

Ighalo, 30, joined Manchester United on a six-month loan deal from the Chinese side during the close of the January 2020 transfer window.

His deal expires on May 31st, but the Old Trafford outfit are ready to extend his stay until June 30th due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

Although United are considering signing the former Watford striker on a permanent deal at the end of his contract, Shangai have offered Ighalo the whooping deal to lure him back to the Asian nation, according to Sky Sports.

READ MORE: Why Ighalo Deserves Permanent Manchester United Deal – Rio Ferdinand

The 30-year-old’s present deal with Shangai elapses in December 2022, but the club are willing to keep him with them until December 2024.

Even though the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top scorer is waiting on the Premier League giants to give him a permanent deal, the £400,000 a week before tax from the Chinese side, may make Ighalo reconsider his stance.

United legend, Rio Ferdinand is among people calling on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to hand the former Nigerian international a permanent deal.

 

 

 

 

Why Ighalo Deserves Permanent Manchester United Deal – Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scores his team's second goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, central England on March 5, 2020. Photo: Oli Scarff / AFP
File: Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scores his team’s second goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, central England on March 5, 2020. Photo: Oli Scarff / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo deserves a permanent deal at Manchester United because he has brought  his “physical presence” to the side, club legend, Rio Ferdinand, has said. 

Ighalo, 30, joined Manchester United in a surprise move at the close of the January 2020 transfer window from Chinese Super League outfit,  Shanghai Shenhua.

The Nigerian was signed on a six-month loan deal as a cover for injured Englishman, Marcus Rashford.

Since he joined the Old Trafford outfit and having played eight times, the former Watford striker has scored four goals and bagged one assist.

READ ALSO: Spanish Football Federation Offers Clubs Loans To Pay Bills

There have been calls for United’s management to hand the Lagos-born forward a permanent deal with boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, muting the idea.

And Ferdinand, who played for United between 2002 and 2014, has joined the call for a permanent deal for the former Granada man.

In a question and answer session on his YouTube channel, Tuesday, the former England defender, said the 30-year-old striker has the physical ability that was lacking in the Red Devils.

While Ighalo may not have turned Man United into world-beaters, his ball-holding ability makes him an asset to the team, Ferdinand explained.

“It’s shocked me to see what he’s done,” the former defender said. “Listen, we’re not talking like he’s turned Man United into world-beaters, but United needed something, and he’s brought it in and given it, and that’s all you can ask for.”

According to him, if Ighalo plays alongside Rashford and Anthony Martial, his experience will help the duo become better in the long run.

He argued that “he’s warranted the opportunity to come in as a full-time player and what he’s given Manchester United which they didn’t have is someone they can pass the ball into and can hold it up, he’s got a physical presence, he can hold off a defender or two and lay the ball in for someone else to score.”

It ‘Feels Good’ Playing At Old Trafford I Used To Watch – Ighalo

Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scores his team's second goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, central England on March 5, 2020. Photo: Oli Scarff / AFP
File: Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scores his team’s second goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, central England on March 5, 2020. Photo: Oli Scarff / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo has expressed joy at playing for Manchester United at the Old Trafford, saying it “feels good.”

The Nigerian forward who joined United on a six-month loan from Chinese Super League side, Shanghai Shenhua, has been in fine form for the English giants.

He has netted four goals in eight games thus far for the Red Devils and has on several occasions, described playing for the team he supported as a child as a dream come true.

According to the former Watford man, he used to go to event centres, and pay money to watch Manchester United matches back then in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: English Football Extends Shutdown Till April 30

He was quoted on the club’s official website as saying that he first visited the Old Trafford in 2013.

Ighalo admitted that it was a surreal moment for him then as he was outside the edifice taking photos.

The striker, in 2016 while still on the payroll of Watford, finally played at the Theatre of Dreams, a moment he said “feels good.”

“And even now, playing for United? It’s making even greater moments for me,” the player said.

Speaking further, he recalled he had a Manchester United shirt but noted that his name was not written at the back because he could not afford it.

United are considering signing the Nigerian on a permanent deal at the end of his short stint.

Manchester United’s Pogba Explains Why He Wore A Juventus Shirt

File photo: Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba gives a press conference after a gala football match between All Star France and Guinea at the Vallee du Cher Stadium in Tours, central France, on December 29, 2019, as part of the “48h for Guinea” charity event. GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP.

 

Manchester United star, Paul Pogba, has explained he wore a Juventus shirt to support his friend, Blaise Matuidi, who is battling the coronavirus disease. 

Pogba posted a video of himself wearing a Juventus shirt while in training sparking exit speculations.

Matuidi who is Pogba’s French teammate, on Tuesday, became the second player in Juventus, after Daniele Rugani, to test positive to coronavirus.

The Juve star is recovering from the disease but Pogba showed his support for him by wearing the shirt which had his (Matuidi’s) name and jersey number 14 written at the back.

READ ALSO: Russia Registers First Coronavirus Death

“Supporting our Juventus and Sampdoria friends @blaisematuidiofficiel, @albinekdal and all athletes and people around the world who are facing this difficult moment,” the midfielder wrote. ⠀⠀

“Be strong, #StayAtHome and be safe 💪🏾! New training camp is called …⠀⠀
Quarantine PP Arena, open 24/7! 🏋🏾‍♂. Having fun working at home 🏠 with my brother @victorlindelof!”

He added, “I know the cheeky ones will talk about the Juventus jersey 😏 I’m just supporting my friends … that’s all, nothing more 😁).”

United centre-back, Victor Linderlof, also joined the Frenchman in the indoor training and wore a Sampdoria shirt to show solidarity for Swedish teammate, Albin Ekdal, who equally tested positive to coronavirus.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B94Z38YFWdv/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The defender wore Ekdal’s Sampdoria shirt in the video which has sparked rumours of Pogba’s possible return to the Italian side.

Matuidi himself  took to his Twitter account to issue an update about his treatment, saying he is “positive.”

“I am positive. I am positive, I am strong, morale is good. I am positive, we will collectively emerge stronger from this test.” the World Cup winner tweeted.

“Thank you for your messages of friendship and support. Let us remain disciplined and united. I am positive, we will do it.”