United make surprise Ighalo loan move

United make surprise Ighalo loan move

Manchester United have sealed a late loan deal for former Watford striker Odion Ighalo.

Following Thursday's big-money acquisition of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon, attention turned to bolstering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's strikeforce before Friday evening's deadline.

The United boss has been open about his desire to bring in an attacker this month, especially after Marcus Rashford's back injury compounded the summer departures of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.

The Red Devils boss did not expect any new faces to arrive when facing the media on Friday morning, but the club are understood to have sealed a shock deal for Shanghai Shenhua striker Ighalo.

The 30-year-old, who grew up as a United fan idolising Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole, is set to join on loan for the remainder of the season, although official confirmation could be delayed due to the difference in timezones

United are not believed to have the option to make the loan deal permanent for a player whose attempt to leave China earlier in the week was reportedly thwarted by the knock-on effect of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ighalo is understood to have turned down the overtures of another Premier League club to join the Old Trafford giants, where he will help address a short-term injury issue.

The Nigeria international is due to head to Manchester from China over the coming days as United head into their winter break.

Solskjaer had hoped to have Erling Haaland at his disposal moving forwards, but Borussia Dortmund managed to beat them to the highly-rated Red Bull Salzburg striker.

There was interest in Bournemouth's Josh King as they weighed up options as the deadline approached, but United are understood to have preferred a loan and baulked at the asking price for a permanent deal.

Instead, Ighalo will be the man tasked with helping United end the campaign with a trophy and Champions League qualification.

The addition will be a welcome shot in the arm for Solskjaer, who is set to hand high-profile acquisition Fernandes his debut against Wolves on Saturday evening.

Fernandes impressed during his first training session and Solskjaer said of the 25-year-old: "He is a goalscoring and assisting midfielder, a little bit like Paul Scholes.

"He can strike a ball fantastically. He has got such a wonderful technique, but he also is going to get assists from set plays and from his range of passes.

"He is a similar type to Scholes - fiery, passionate, hates losing and same number on the back of the shirt."

Fernandes cost an initial 55 million euros (£46.6million), rising to 80 million euros (£67.2million) if all the add-ons are met.

Asked if that outlay could affect United's summer budget, Solskjaer said: "Of course signings and expenditure will affect your budget."

Pushed on whether that would have been part of his summer budget, he said: "Of course it is."

The arrival of Fernandes also leads to questions about the long-term future of Paul Pogba, who has been the subject of widespread speculation during this injury-hit season.

When asked whether the Portuguese's arrival will lead to the exit of Pogba, the Red Devils boss said: "We want to try to build towards a team that will challenge for the title and trophies, so we want to keep our best players. We can play them together."

The PA news agency understands United are interested in another midfielder in the form of Jude Bellingham, but a deadline-day move for the 16-year-old Birmingham player did not materialise.

The only other arrival on Friday was Southend goalkeeper Nathan Bishop.

The 20-year-old came through the ranks at Roots Hall, where he made 39 appearances after making his debut in December 2017.

The England Under-20 international has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with United and will link up with the development squad.

"The opportunity to join Manchester United is a dream come true," he said.

"This club has a great record of developing goalkeepers and I cannot wait to work with the coaches here to improve every single day.

"I want to take the chance to thank everyone at Southend United for everything they have done for me throughout my time there; without their support, this move would not have been possible."

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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