Man Utd's Chances of Extending Odion Ighalo Stay Boosted by CSL Foreign Player Travel Restriction

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League
Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Odion Ighalo's chances of remaining at Manchester United for the rest of the season have increased with reports that foreign Chinese Super League players coaches may not be able to return to the country until October.

Ighalo was a deadline day arrival at Old Trafford back in January and despite the signing being widely derided at the time, the Nigerian has been a useful asset to the squad. The striker managed four goals and one assist in eight games before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

LASK v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
LASK v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg / UEFA - Handout/Getty Images

The 30-year-old's loan deal is set to expire on 31 May and although he has previously expressed a desire to remain at United until the season is completed, he had seemed likely to return to parent club Shanghai Shenhua in the near future.

However, this has now been thrown into doubt with Chinese football reporter Miao Yuan (via Jonathan White) claiming that all CSL overseas players and coaches who are currently outside of the country will not be able to return until October.

With Project Restart plans ramping up and Ighalo set to be stuck in England until the autumn, the former Watford man is now far more likely to see out the remainder of the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Another familiar Premier League face affected by these potential travel restrictions is Rafa Benitez. The Dalian Professional (formerly Dalian Yifang) manager is also residing outside of China, having been heavily linked with a return to Newcastle over the last month.

While Ighalo now seems destined to extend his loan deal at United, the club remain undecided over whether they will offer him a permanent contract. Recent reports suggest that Solskjaer wants to consider his options in the transfer market before sealing a £15m move.

One possible alternative could be Bournemouth's Josh King, in whom the Red Devils have reignited their interest recently.