Odion Ighalo has expressed his delight after sealing a switch to Manchester United on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, insisting his lifelong dream has become a reality.
Ighalo has joined the Red Devils on a temporary deal set to run until the end of the season, after a dramatic January deadline day which finally saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s search for a new striker come to an end.
It was widely reported that United failed with a £20 million ($26m) bid for Bournemouth’s Josh King on Friday, before turning their attention to a 30-year-old who has spent the last three years of his career in China.
Ighalo scored 36 goals in two seasons for Changchun Yatai before joining Shenhua last February, where he has notched 10 in 18 appearances.
He will now be charged with helping United secure a top-four finish in the Premier League, with major silverware also still up for grabs in the FA Cup and Europa League.
After arriving in Manchester on Sunday morning, Ighalo told Sky Sports of his excitement after a “crazy” few days of negotiations and travelling: “It’s a dream come true because since I was a kid I followed and dreamt of Manchester United.
“But it is a reality now. I cannot say much more now until I get started. It’s been crazy. Obviously, I am happy to be in Manchester first of all.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to God, and to my agent, and the coach who has given me this opportunity to be here.
“I am happy to be here and to work out with the team and finish very well this season.
“The plan is to just chill today because I travelled a very long way from Shanghai to Manchester.
“Today is to just rest and tomorrow we start to work.”
Solskjaer has described Ighalo as “a great lad” and a “good goalscorer” , and hopes he can give United a “different option” in the final third of the pitch with Marcus Rashford currently sidelined through injury.
Rashford is not expected to return to action until April, leaving Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the only other centre-forwards with the United manager’s ranks.
The Red Devils also managed to bring in Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes from Sporting during the January transfer window, and he impressed on his debut during a 0-0 draw with Wolves at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Fernandes and Ighalo could both be in line for a place in Solskjaer’s starting XI when United take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on February 17, which marks their first game back following the Premier League’s winter break.