His future destination is the focus of much speculation at present, but Odion Ighalo will certainly have no shortage of offers on the table before the end of the European transfer window in January. The main difficulty facing the player right now is ensuring he makes the right choice for the good of both his immediate and long-term future.
The 29-year-old Nigeria international is undoubtedly in the prime of his footballing career, so this next move could prove to be the most important of his footballing career to date. At the forefront of Ighalo’s mind, having reportedly told Sky Sports his favoured option is a return to the Premier League in England, after enjoying two particularly successful seasons previously at Watford, before departing in 2017 for Changchun Yatai in China.
It is believed that Ighalo will spend some time in England over the coming days, negotiating potential opportunities. Given that Tottenham Hotspur are amongst the Premier League betting top four contenders, while still also competing in the Champions League, reported interest from the side managed by Mauricio Pochettino may be appealing, though with a significant caveat.
Spurs are clearly in the market for attacking reinforcements, particularly after Harry Kane was injured in the recent Premier League defeat against Manchester United. Although there has been significant talk about a potential move for Ighalo, he is reluctant about the idea of being a backup player in the future, once the England international returns to full fitness.
What does seem to be giving Ighalo pause for thought, is ensuring he joins a Premier League club where he’ll be given a fair opportunity to earn a key role in the starting eleven. Considered to be an ideal target for Southampton, he has also been linked with interest from Newcastle and Crystal Palace, amongst others.
Having scored an impressive tally of 36 goals in 55 appearances in the Chinese Super League, despite the team suffering relegation at the end of the 2018 season, Changchun Yatai have expressed a preference to retain the services of Ighalo. However, they appear willing to sell if they can recoup the £20 million transfer fee paid to Watford in 2017. Such a fee should n’t really pose any obstacles for interested Premier League clubs.
Perhaps just as interesting has been media talk surrounding potential interest from Barcelona, with Ighalo having been linked as a candidate to bolster the attacking options at the Camp Nou, following the recent departure of Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla. Cules manager Ernesto Valverde expressed the desire to find suitable cover for Uruguayan international Luis Suárez, however, the chances of such a dream move for Ighalo ended when Barça opted for Kevin-Prince Boateng instead, as one of the shock deals of the January transfer window.
Ighalo boasts a wealth of LaLiga experience from his time at Granada CF, where he is still regarded as “The Legend” amongst their fans, yet it seems unlikely he would return to Spain at this moment in his career. Returning to England and the Premier League is the primary objective for the player and his representatives, with the aim of finding a suitable destination before the end of the month.