Odion Ighalo Set to Leave Man Utd as Shanghai Shenhua Hold Firm on Return Plans

Odion Ighalo
Manchester United v Club Brugge - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United could be made to finish the season without striker Odion Ighalo, who is expected to return to parent club Shanghai Shenhua when his loan expires at the end of May.

The season was supposed to have finished by that time, so United had only agreed to sign him until that point. However, the coronavirus outbreak has delayed the campaign and there is a chance that things won't be concluded until August.

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

Clubs in this situation can agree a short extension of loan contracts, but only if all parties agree. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected such a proposal as they want Ighalo back for the start of the Chinese Super League season.

The CSL was set to start in February but has also been delayed until June, and Shanghai are believed to be eager to have Ighalo back in the squad by then. They have even offered the Nigerian a new contract which will pay him close to £400,000-a-week.

There has been speculation that Shanghai would agree to sell Ighalo permanent for close to £20m, but United have not explored this option and have only attempted to convince the Chinese side to extend the loan.

Instead, the Evening Standard believe that United's focus is on long-term, younger targets like Timo Werner and Moussa Dembélé, rather than shelling out to buy a 30-year-old.

Ighalo himself wants to stay and finish the season with United in the hope of winning the Europa League, but unless a breakthrough in negotiations can be made, the striker will be on his way back to China next week, having already played his final match for the club.

Ighalo has eight appearances for United to his name, in which he managed an impressive return of four goals. His last outing for the club came in the Europa League against LASK, and he fired United to a 5-0 win with a goal and an assist.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Odion Ighalo
Chelsea FC v Manchester United - Premier League | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

That impressive performance came over two months ago, and now Ighalo's United tenure appears set to end in a similarly frustrating manner to how it started.

He was not permitted to train with the first team after his arrival from China, instead being made to train alone for a few weeks to ensure he did not transmit the coronavirus to any teammates.

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