Manchester United secured a late loan deal for Shanghai Shenhua striker Odion Ighalo, but not before Aston Villa rejected the chance to take the Nigerian to the Midlands.
The 30-year-old’s agent allegedly approached the Villans as he looked to engineer an escape route for his client, who has scored a total of 46 goals in 72 Chinese Super League appearances. However, Dean Smith opted not to sign Ighalo, despite Wesley’s season-ending injury.
Villa’s £22m summer arrival suffered knee ligament damage in the side’s 2-1 victory at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day, with Smith subsequently beginning his hunt for a replacement in the January transfer window.
According to Sky Sports, the manager had been considering bringing Ighalo in on loan for the remainder of the campaign, but ultimately decided against pursuing a deal.
The forward enjoyed two successful seasons at the start of his Watford career following a switch from Udinese in 2014, scoring 35 Premier League goals during his first 72 games in the competition.
Unfortunately, 2016/17 was far less fruitful for him, Ighalo netting just once in the opening half of the campaign, before agreeing a transfer to Shanghai’s CSL opponents Changchun Yatai, the side he left to join Shenhua two years later.
Villa’s rejection did nothing to damped Manchester United’s interest, however, with the Red Devils making him their final acquisition this January. Tottenham Hotspur also tried to capitalise on situation, only for the striker to give Spurs a firm ‘no’.
Marcus Rashford will be unavailable until March at the earliest, triggering Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer’s frantic search for new attacking talent. It remains to be seen whether the Norwegian’s choice of player will help solve United’s problems up top.
The Red Devils have scored less league goals than all of their rivals in the top six, with Rashford providing a third of their haul in 2019/20. Ighalo has some big shoes to fill. If he doesn’t, further questions will be asked regarding United’s recruitment.