Manchester United visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Monday and United’s new signing Odion Ighalo could make his debut after his loan switch from Shanghai Shenhua.
The signing raised eyebrows at first but Ighalo has experience in the Premier League and, with Marcus Rashford currently sidelined with a double stress fracture in his back, reinforcements were desperately needed.
The Nigerian international has 10 goals in 19 appearances for his parent club in China. More importantly, the striker boasts an impressive goal-scoring record from his time in England.
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After scoring 17 goals in the Championship in 2014 and leading Watford to promotion, Ighalo took his electric form into the Premier League, scoring 15 goals in the Hornets’ first campaign back in the top flight.
Despite Ighalo being proven in the division, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink gave a damming verdict on the signing.
“Going to China, being away from Europe nobody seeing him for two and a half years since he was at Watford and then getting a loan move at United,” Hasselbaink told Sky.
“It shows how far behind United are from Liverpool, Manchester City, and even Chelsea. They have got a big job ahead.
“They needed somebody in. I think he was not their number one and I would be surprised if he was their number two or three as well.”
While some may feel Hasselbaink’s comments are justified, his scathing criticism should only serve as added motivation for Ighalo to begin his United career in goalscoring fashion. The signing may not be glamorous, but it’s pragmatic and Ighalo can give United the unique presence upfront that they have lacked since the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
The pressure is off for Ighalo and, consequently, expectations aren’t high. In these circumstances, the 30-year-old could thrive and, while scoring goals will be the ultimate aim, his link-up play and ability to bring his teammates into the game will be as equally as important for United.
Ighalo could make Hasselbaink eat his words on February 17.