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Ighalo: Why I Turned Down Barcelona Offer

Ighalo: Why I Turned Down Barcelona Offer

Nigeria international striker Odion Ighalo has revealed he turned down a move to European giants Barcelona in January to continue his career in the Chinese Super League (CSL).

Ighalo, 29, finished as the 2018 CSL’s second-top scorer with 21 goals which attracted interest from the five-time European champions, but he insists it was an ‘easy decision’ to reject their overtures.


“My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football,” Ighalo told BBC Sport.

“It was meant to be a six-month loan and strictly as a back-up striker. It was nice to hear that Barcelona were interested and any footballer would be more than happy to take it.

Zenith Ziva

“But with due respect, I had just finished as the second top scorer in China with 21 goals, I deserve better and didn’t want to be a short-term player somewhere.

“We rejected it, it was an easy decision to make and I chose to stay in China by joining Shanghai Shenhua on a longer contract,” Ighalo added.

The former Watford striker, who previously spent five years at Granada, rejected an opportunity to play in the Uefa Champions League and potentially claim a first European league title with the 25-time Spanish champions.

The Catalan side however turned to Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng who joined on loan for the remainder of the season.

Ighalo insists he has no regrets over his decision to snub Barcelona and sign a three-year deal at Shanghai Shenhua as he believes he had to adopt a long-term plan for his career.

“You need to weigh things up properly in life and ask yourself if it is your call to make, or one to satisfy others,” said Ighalo.

“I respect my decision. I needed to focus on what is good for my career long-term and when you decide to do something – you stay true to yourself. It wasn’t for me and I am happy where I am.

“I have no regrets or whatsoever because I am happy at Shanghai Shenhua. To reunite and play under my former Watford coach [Quique Sánchez Flores] is exciting and I love it.”

Ighalo, who has played in Norway, Italy, Spain and England, scored seven goals to finish as top scorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying to help Nigeria seal a return to the tournament.

A former youth international, he has 11 goals in 27 appearances for the Super Eagles and played for his country at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


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  • Omo9ja 2 years ago

    This is what I just said about you Ighalo. You have a great personality. You are very good at club level but not at the national team.

    Your situation is very similar to Jonathan Akpoborie. Therefore, Keep it up and I will like you to do the same thing after this year Afcon. I’m pretty sure that Nigerians will appreciate you a lot. You have tried your best. God bless Nigeria!!!

    • Ayphillydegreat 2 years ago

      Is this coming from Omo9ja to Ighalo? AWAMARIDI LOBA ELEDUMARE. Are you now trying to encourage him because he almost signed for Barcelona? The same Ighalo that Rohr should take with him?? Lord have mercy!!  “He’s very good at club level but not at the national team”. The last time I checked he was the top scorer in AFCON qualifiers with 7 goals. Salah has 4 goals. No be say I too dig Ighalo like that because I think he could be gone after the AFCON depending on his performance at the African Soccer Fiesta, but he’s currently firing on all cylinders.

  • greenturf 2 years ago

    A move to Barcelona would have upped your profile and presented a platform for medals which are short in your footballing career.
    Ighalo is a player who loves money and would play in India with a better offer.I was gutted reading this article because going to the nations cup with a Barcelona striker would be a booster to his compatriots and definitely add to our strength and team ratings.I think is high time players playing in obscure leagues because of money are ostracized from the super eagles to serve as deterrent to young players not to follow that chain.

    • To hear him talk about ‘long term’ at 29 is even more appaling.

    • Sule, which cylinder is he firing? SMH.
      Okpotu is better than him joor.


      • Yeparipa, Greentea, sorry o, I wanted to pull Ayphilly’s but I responded to your post instead.

        Also, did I just called you Greentea? Sorry sir. That’s it, I am going back to bed, the clock goes back tomorrow not today , I think I am a bit confused.

        So sorry.

        Good night, or is good morning!!

  • Dr. Drey 2 years ago

    At the age of 29 going to 30…some people want ighalo to go and sit on Barcelona bench for 6 months, just because it is Barcelona. I can’t laff enough.
    when you too are nearing your own retirement pls quit from a place where your could have been pensionable and go to a place where you would be a trainee. lolz

    • That is exactly what I will do.

      I am 79 and I will change jobs next week to a more competitive arena.


      • Drey in all seriousness, do you remember Swedish legend Henrik Larsson who, in similar situation with Ighalo, went on a short-term loan to Manchester United when he was into his early 30s.

        He still earned some caps and made some positive contributions.

        Even Thierry Henry and Drogba went back to Arsenal and Chelsea respectively in their 30s for short-term deals.

        Before you throw me off the bus, all I am saying is that there is precedence for these things.

        Also, when I start my new job next week at the age of 75, I will let you know whether I make the main team. 🙂

  • Dr. Drey 2 years ago

    lol @ deo….its not about being competitive….its about securing your long term future….its about securing that time when you wouldn’t be able to tie your laces by yourself. Is it the competition he hasn’t had in over a decade of professional football in Europe he will now have in 6months at barca…? what does he want to prove…..and to whom…? abeg na afoty e wan win or ballon dor. Ighalo will definitely not start at barca….that will definitely not do his national team chances any good ahead of afcon….in a season wen his teammates are taking advantage of loan moves to get game time…..a bench role could jeopardize his career objective of featuring in afcon…….moreover I don’t think barca will be willing to pay d kind of wage he earns in China. So what is then the point in moving….? no guaranteed playing time….no pay rise….the difficulty in relocating to another clime…etc….before He’s done integrating himself fully….6 months is over….then he becomes a free agent at 30 and then that’s where things will start getting difficult.
    So if you choose to quit decades of gainful meritorious service with deserved promotions here and there, to become a trainee with a few years to retirement…. all because you want competition….. I wish to heartily congratulate you. You must be a damn jolly good fellow….!!!

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Thank you sir. Let me really go back to bed before I do more damage. See you later.

  • Xhuxhu 2 years ago

    I honestly would have loved Ighalo to move to a more competitive league but I still understand the driving forces that made him stay back in China.
    A Lil bit move away from the subject of discussion, I read from some sports dailies that Rohr has closed the door on New invitees.This really sounds strange to me because some days before he made this statement, he talked about inviting Maduka Okoye,Felix etc and I also feel Rohr should invite the likes of Odubajo, Akpom,Ebere Eze Dennis Bonaventure etc.We might not know the impact they can make like Onuachu until they are given a chance. I am fully aware that we have just one fifa open for internationals before the AFCON but we need Nigeria’s best in the Super Eagles.
    Here are my 30 provisional list for AFCON
    Goalkeepers-Uzoho,Ezenwa, Akpeyi,Alampasu.
    Defenders-Aina,Shehu,Omeruo,Ekong,Balogun,Ozornwafor,Stephen Eze,Collins,Ebuehi(If fit), Odubajo.
    Midfielders-Ndidi,Mikel,Onazi,Ogu,Etebo,Semi Ajayi,Akpom,Iwobi
    Attackers-Musa,Ighalo,Onuachu,Iheanacho,Onyekuru,Kalu,Success and Chukwueze

  • Ighalo’s reasons for snubbing the Barca don’t fly with me. I’m with Greenturf and Xhuxhu here. I think Ighalo is trying to colour the truth, which is the financial motivation to continue in China.

    Ighalo isn’t a poor guy and would probably never ever be anymore. He should have considered more the current and future profile that move would bring to himself and the country, rather than thinking of money and more money, just like Mikel. And sacrificing the former for the latter. I think that was short-sighted. Did he call Amunike, Kanu or Okocha for their opinion? No?

    I was watching the Tanzania-Uganda match last and whenever the commentators wanted to profile Amunike, they would say he played for Barcelona. But that was eons ago and he was a backup or fringe player. It didn’t matter to them. The commentators didn’t even remember he played for Zamalek too and recently won FIFA U17 trophy twice as coach and assistant coach!

    Ighalo, you goofed big time on this one! You should have gone to Barca to train with Valverdes, Messi, Pique, Dembele and the rest and at least learn a few more tricks to help the SE and your future profile.

    It was just 6 months. Who knows what would have happened after then? Mane, Salah, Drogba, Etoo and all the past and present big guns of African football played for or are playing for the European elite clubs.

    Enough said.

    • Kel, thank you. I am a bit awake now a can just about gather my thoughts. So let me try to cobble something together.

      Whilst I understand what Dr Drey is trying to say, I think I am with you and Greentea on this one.

      The example I gave about Henrik Larrson, Thierry Henry and even Didier Drogba’s second stint at Chelsea – all in their 30s – is that these are short-term moves that serves short-term purpose.

      The idea is for Ighalo to go to Bracelona, train with them, get the odd game in Cup competition from January until the end of the season in May just before the Afcon.

      After the Afcon, then he can go back to China, Saudi Arabia or wherever.

      However, there is another side to this coin which appears to support Dr Drey’s position.

      Gernot Rohr demands just one thing from his players: that they play regular football. Once you are already a Rohr-boy, the German no longer worry about where you play your football: China, Denmark, Cyprus or Saudi Arabia.

      All Rohr wants is for his boys to play regular football.

      Now, with the likes of Iheanacho, Onouachu and others breathing down his neck, would going to Barcelona (big club as it is) only to languish on the bench make Rohr look favourably at Ighalo (ahead of a Cup of Nations that Rohr wants to win)? I think not.

      I think Rohr would rather Ighalo plays and scores in China (boosting his confidence) rather than sit on the bench in Barcelona (which might deflate his confidence) ahead of the cup of nations.

      What do I now eh?

      • Greenturf 2 years ago

        The civil way you responded to Kel who shared similar views is not the same way you responded to me.You accorded him respect which should be the standard but disrespected me that’s strange and absurd.

  • This is My first comment after being a reader of comments for a very long time.

  • Greenturf 2 years ago

    Some people are being very disrespectful I don’t see any need for this deo.I don’t have to share your opinion and for you to team up with someone to do just that makes it even worse.
    This is a forum for crying out loud!what makes you think you know better than others?you have disrespected me a couple of times in the past i took it in the chin I think you have a problem with me.There are better ways to respond to my post then we could have debated healthily on it and learn from our different views but you have just ruined that.

    • @Greenturf, I think deo was only bantering with you. No harms meant.

      @deo, nice points about Rohr only wanting players playing football regularly in their clubs. But I think with clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Bayern Munich, there will be a caveat.

      Who in those clubs don’t get a first class ticket to their national teams, even if they are a backup? Even Rohr won’t dare leave out a Barca player in the SE, or there’ll be a fan uproar.

    • Hey Greenturf don’t be like that. Actually, I was initially trying to pull Ayphillydegreat’s legs by calling him “Sule” only because he had called someone else ‘Sule’ in another post yesterday on Onouachu.

      But because I was just getting out of bed (and thought the clock was going forward today) I mistakenly replied to your post.

      Also, this stupid mobile phones and their auto-correct features; whenever I want to type ‘Greenturf’ it keeps defaulting to my favourite tea ‘Greentea’.

      I did not mean any disrespect; please forgive me. I did say earlier that perhaps I should spend more time in bed this morning so I don’t do more damage.

      Sorry bro, no vex, a beg sir, no disrespect intended o!

      You are my Oga at the top!

  • Bomboy 2 years ago

    As much as I dislike Chinese products, I would prefer playing regularly in China than to sit on the bench in Barcelona.

    They told him he was being signed on strictly as a backup. This implies that he could have sat out the whole six months if their first choice didn’t break a leg or go out of form. That proposition is too risky for a player like Ighalo who is our point man in the SE attack.

    I remember Ahmed Musa said Coach Rohr told him it was better to move to Saudi than to sit it out in England…

  • Bomboy 2 years ago

    The following comment was posted by a reader in response to this same article in DAILY MAIL.

    Read and be wise:

    “This guy is my new hero, awesome bit of news. Barca and Real think all they have to do is click their fingers and every pro footballer in the world will swoon and start giggling like a Japanese school girl like Pogba”

  • Charles 2 years ago

    So he should go to barcelona and warm the bench,so when the nations cup resume his lack Will be shaking and he won’t have any confidence infront of goal, if barca assures him playing time i don’t mind for him to go but i don’t buy the idea of him going to seat on the bench when the nations cup is almost here, kelechi iheanacho is suffering that right now and i won’t be surprise if he seat down on the bench at nations cup