Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has backed calls for the club
to sign Odion Ighalo permanently at the end of the season and has
compared the striker’s impact to that of Henrik Larsson in the 2006/07
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was intent on bolstering his attacking options
following Marcus Rashford ’s back injury and and eyebrows were raised
when the Red Devils reached an agreement for Ighalo on the final day
of the January transfer window.
The 30-year-old forward had been plying his trade in the Chinese Super
League with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua and there were serious
doubts over whether he would be able to replicate the form he showed
at Watford from 2014 to 2017.
But Ighalo, a lifelong United fan, has been a revelation since returning
to these shores, racking up four goals and one assist in his opening
eight appearances, and the latest reports suggest the club plan to sign
him permanently for £15million this summer.
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Discussing these rumours during a Q&A session with his Instagram
followers, ex-United defender Ferdinand said: ‘Wow, eight games, three
starts in that, four goals and one assist. Ighalo, do you sign him for
Manchester United now?
‘All them people that out there that were saying: “What are we doing
signing Ighalo? What’s going on? What’s Ole thinking?” – I was one of
them, I have to admit it.
“Ighalo’s been in China, the league’s nowhere
near what the Premier League is so how’s he gonna get up to speed? Is
he gonna be ready straight away? We need somebody to come and
make an impact immediately. Coming from China, impossible”. Well
he’s proved us all wrong.
‘This guy has proved us all wrong. It’s refreshing to see someone who
is like a supporter, who is thankful. He looks like he’s absolutely
delighted to be at Manchester United. He’s been a Manchester United
supporter his whole life.
” He looks like he’s saying “thank you” every day
he walks up to Ole for giving him this opportunity. He’s not someone
who says “Manchester United are lucky to have me here” – that’s the
vibe I’ve got for a little while and that’s not just United, that’s other
clubs as well.
‘This boy looks like he’s happy to be here: “Whatever you tell me to do
I’m gonna go out there and do it to the best of my ability. I’m gonna
give you 100 per cent every day in training and in matches because I
love this club and I want to do right by this club”. I love it.
‘It’s shocked me to see what he’s done. 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.
‘And I think 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.’
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Ferdinand believes Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James will all
feel the benefit of Ighalo’s added experience, just as Wayne Rooney and
Louis Saha did when Larsson joined on loan back in 2007.
‘Rashford, when he’s fit, will appreciate playing with someone like this,’
‘He can have the impact of the Rashfords, on the Martials, on Daniel
James etc. that someone like Henrik Larsson can have on the likes of
[Wayne] Rooney and [Louis] Saha when he was there. That little bit of
‘He’s got something that’s different to all the other guys in the team
and you need that sometimes.’