Monday, February 17, 2020

Ighalo signing shows Manchester United’s transfer failings

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 4 Feb 2020

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On the latest transfer deadline day, one of the deals that caught the eye was Manchester United signing former Watford striker Odion Ighalo on loan from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua. It was a strange one, to say the least.

However, the Red Devils signing the Nigerian international smacked of desperation to bring in a forward player, as they were short in attack. This is not a new problem, as, in my opinion, they were short in attack at the start of the season.

They did not replace Lukaku

Last summer much-maligned Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku swapped Manchester for Milan, as the 26-year-old joined Inter from United. While many criticised the former Everton forward, he actually had a decent strike ratio, close to a goal every other game for the Red Devils. However, it felt the right move for the player to leave for everybody involved.

That deal was completed and then there was an expectation that United would replace the forward. However, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided not to bring in a replacement, despite links with many forwards. It looked like a gamble, as that meant relying on England forward Marcus Rashford and youngster Mason Greenwood as the central attacking options.

Rashford injury led to a desperate search for a striker

United maybe could have got away with Rashford, Greenwood and French forward Anthony Martial as central attacking options. However, a recent back injury sustained by Rashford has left United’s attacking options looking sparse.

Some would argue that Martial is not an out-and-out striker, having also played out wide, just like Rashford has in the past. So far United boss Solskjaer only seems to trust young Greenwood with cameo appearances from the substitutes bench, despite the youngster showing flashes of his ability.

The January transfer window was the perfect opportunity to bring in a quality replacement. According to media reports, United missed out on signing both RB Salzburg’s Erling Haaland and his compatriot Josh King, who of course spent time at Old Trafford as a youngster.

Ighalo was certainly not their first choice. The fact that the Red Devils had to loan in a player who has been playing in the Chinese Super League for the last two-and-a-bit years illustrate where they are at the minute as a club. The whole saga makes the people in charge of recruitment look highly incompetent.

Ighalo may come good at United

Ighalo must be pinching himself at the moment. First, he earned a lucrative move to China that probably secured him for the rest of his life. Now at 30 years of age, he gets a move to one of the biggest clubs in the European game, which they are even if the team are no longer one of the best in Europe.

Ighalo has previous experience of playing in the Premier League, as he scored 16 goals in 55 league appearances for Watford prior to his move to the Chinese game back in 2017. He knows the league and may come good for the Red Devils. He offers a physical presence, which is not the biggest strength of the likes of Martial and Rashford, when fit. Who knows he may come good for the Red Devils.

If called upon, United will need him to fire, as the Red Devils are currently outsiders at odds of 8/1 to finish in the Premier League’s Champions League berths this season. It seems unlikely that the signing of Ighalo will improve their chances of achieving their objective.

Manchester United seem to be sinking to new depths of mediocrity from top to bottom. It must be a nightmare for fans of the club. Unfortunately, that nightmare shows very little signs of ending anytime soon.

Will Odion Ighalo prove to be a success at Manchester United?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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