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Manchester United reached an agreement with Nigeria's Odion Ighalo on personal terms

Manchester United complete Odion Ighalo loan deal until the end of the season.

Odion Ighalo

Manchester United have reached an agreement with Odion Ighalo on personal terms and salary over a six-month loan from his parent club, Shanghai Shenhua, with an option to buy the 30-year-old.

United’s frantic search for a striker has taken a dramatic twist with the club closing in on an emergency loan deal for the former Watford striker, Odion Ighalo, hours after balking at Bournemouth’s £35 million valuation of Josh King.

“There was another twist as Inter Milan, who have been buying everybody in this window, when they didn’t get Olivier Giroud, they asked about Odion Ighalo but he had his heart set on a move back to the Premier League and Manchester United.”
United  raced to finalise the details of their shock move for Ighalo before the 11pm transfer deadline after agreeing a loan deal in principle until the end of the season with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

Ighalo, 30, who scored 16 goals in 55 Premier League appearances for Watford before leaving for China in 2017, is still stranded in Shanghai but is scheduled to fly to Manchester on Saturday, provided the transfer “deal sheets” are completed in time.

He was originally booked on a flight from Shanghai on Thursday morning but it was unable to take off due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has led to the Chinese Super League season being postponed indefinitely and prompted the Nigeria striker to be offered to United among others.

Tottenham Hotspur and one other unnamed club had expressed an interest in Ighalo, who has had a nomadic career comprising nine clubs across six countries including Norway, Spain and Italy.

As exclusively revealed by Telegraph Sport on Thursday night, the United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, had initially turned his sights to compatriot King in his desperate search for attacking reinforcements following the loss of top goalscorer Marcus Rashford with a serious back injury just over a fortnight ago.

But, despite Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe making no attempt to conceal the Norway striker’s desire to return to Old Trafford, where he spent five years as a youngster before moving to Blackburn Rovers in 2013, United’s bid fell well short of the South Coast club’s pricetag of the 28-year-old.

United - who initially favoured a loan deal - are thought to have made an offer of around £20 million for King, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury until after the February winter break.

But Bournemouth were demanding considerably more and talks broke down, prompting United instead to turn their sights to another striker with links to Norway, Solskjaer’s home country. Ighalo spent a season with Lyn in 2007-08 before moving to Udinese in Italy.

Ighalo is one of host players United have been offered since Rashford was struck down by a double stress fracture in his back in mid January that will keep the England striker out for months.

Solskjaer had hoped to sign Erling Haaland earlier in the window but the Norway striker opted instead to join Borussia Dortmund and that snub coupled with Rashford’s injury left the club frantically searching for reinforcements.

They made an enquiry about Southampton’s Danny Ings only to be told the former Liverpool and Burnley striker was not for sale and were also offered Leicester flop, Islam Slimani, and veteran Uruguay striker, Edinson Cavani, who wanted to leave Paris St Germain this month, among many others.

Solskjaer made clear that United need more goals in the team in the wake of the 1-0 Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg win over Manchester City on Wednesday and he even hinted on Friday that he may be forced to rethink his system with Rashford out. The United manager felt Anthony Martial and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood - his only available, recognised strikers - struggled as a pairing.

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