Odion Ighalo joining Manchester United caught many by surprise, but now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is urging him to earn a permanent contract.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged loan signing Odion Ighalo to earn a permanent stay at the club.
Ighalo joined United on a temporary deal on deadline day, as the club desperately sought a short-term solution to Marcus Rashford’s serious injury, which is expected to keep him out until April.
While Bournemouth’s Josh King was considered by United, with Eddie Howe confirming the club made an approach, Shanghai Shenhua-owned Ighalo was the striker they chose.
Although the Nigerian only joined on loan, Solskjaer sees no reason why securing a permanent contract should be seen as beyond the 30-year-old.
“It’s a loan, but when you’re in the door, and if you impress, it gives you a chance,” Solskjaer said. “That’s exactly the same for everyone who signs.
“If it’s permanent or if it’s a loan, if you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, of course there’s a chance we’ll look at extending things.
“That doesn’t just go for Odion but, yes, his incentive is to play as well as he can and it’s up to us to make sure he wants to stay, if we want him.”
United critics suggested Ighalo was a desperate last-ditch signing by the club, particularly given they were said to be chasing the sought-after Erling Haaland prior to his Borussia Dortmund move.
But Solskjaer dismissed that notion and is optimistic Ighalo will hush his doubters.
“Don’t go down that route now,” Solskjaer responded. “He’s a loan player that we’re very happy with having here. Hopefully he’ll prove to you what I think he will. He’s a proven goalscorer, so he’ll do all right.
“I’m very happy with the two guys we brought in and it’s not just us and Chelsea. But to finally have got Bruno [Fernandes] over the line, to have signed him after following him for so long, and just seeing what he can give us and what he will give us, has been great. And it will be great to integrate Odion as well.”
Ighalo is expected to make his United debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday but is not thought to be in contention for a starting spot after training away from the first-team squad due to coronavirus fears.