During the early stages of the January transfer window, Manchester United were very, very, very keen on signing Erling Haaland before he joined Borussia Dortmund.
Then United were said to be interested in Lyon's Moussa Dembele and Raul Jimenez of Wolves. Also on this list of strikers to be linked with a move to Old Trafford were Edinson Cavani, Luka Jovic,
This is what “living your dream” looks like God is the Greatest pic.twitter.com/WzJZqTjHvK— Odion Jude Ighalo (@ighalojude) February 29, 2020
And less than three months later, Manchester United are ready to make his transfer permanent for around £15m. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be impressed by his performances on the field, while his attitude and willingness to train alone since his arrival has also seen him earn praise.
Ighalo was brought in as an emergency striker due to the injury crisis, and very few would have expected the deal to become permanent. And yet, as a result of his displays on and off the pitch, United are set to make the move permanent.
In just three starts for the club, Ighalo has four goals and one assist to his name. As it has turned out, he is exactly what Manchester United have been looking for. Ighalo is a born striker, ruthless in front of goal and this is backed up by his goals tally.
On his full debut for the club, Ighalo was presented with a golden opportunity to score, which he did. Yes, it was a tap in, but in the build up, he was showing for the ball and looking to make an impact, and once he saw fellow January signing Bruno Fernandes playing a dinked ball over towards Juan Mata, he quickly turned and darted to where he knew the ball would go.
It was his understanding of the game that allowed him to get the half a yard he required to tap in.
Ighalo went on to score twice against Derby in the FA Cup, both chances impressively dispatched. Most recently, the Nigerian was outstanding during United's 5-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.
His one and only goal of the game was simply a work of art. As a Fernandes pass came into him, he took the ball in, found space on the edge of the area, juggled the ball in the air before shifting it onto his 'weaker foot' and firing in to the top corner.
Solskjaer's reaction to the goal said it all.
His goals have been of the highest quality, but it is his overall performances that have been the most impressive. He's acted as a focal point, someone for the rest of the team to build off. Ighalo uses his body to shrug off defenders, before bringing his teammates into the game - and the players have most definitely benefited from his presence up front.
His cameo in the Manchester derby sadly went largely unnoticed due to the magnitude of the result, but he was exceptional in keeping the ball up field in a time when the pressure was really beginning to mount on United's defence.
Ighalo came on for the final two minutes of the clash, and immediately got in on the action. As the United defenders launched the ball upfield aimlessly in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure, the on-loan striker ensured he was there ahead of a Manchester City player. As one ball was cleared high up in the air in injury time, Ighalo used his body to shrug off the challenges and pluck the ball out of the sky delicately, before showing the necessary composure to play a pass to a teammate.
In times such as this, a young Man Utd team needs a calm and collected figure to show be composed on the ball in pressurised moments, and Ighalo can do just that. But equally, he has the ability to change a game for his side with his ruthlessness in front of goal.
Man Utd are among the sides that are