Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that Manchester United will push through a permanent deal for Odion Ighalo after seeing him impress on loan, with the Red Devils set to “still need those qualities for next season”.
Eyebrows were raised when the ranks at Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua were raided in January to bring a former Watford striker back to English football.
United’s search for more firepower had dragged into deadline day and there were suggestions that their hand had been forced after missing out on a number of alternative targets.
Ighalo has, however, silenced any critics and won over his doubters with four goals in five appearances, including a stunning juggling wonder-strike in a 5-0 Europa League win over LASK.
His commitment to the cause has never been in doubt, as a boyhood United fan, and the 30-year-old is showing that he also boasts the ability to be a useful option for Solskjaer in a No.9 role.
With that in mind, the Red Devils are being edged towards an agreement to keep Ighalo on their books beyond the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
Solskjaer told reporters on the back of another eye-catching outing against LASK: “Odion has done really well since he came in and he’s enjoying himself.
“And he will improve and get better but he has qualities we saw in him and we needed and we will still need those qualities for next season, so let’s see what we will do.
“He’s a goalscorer and a striker, he doesn’t worry too much about all that nonsense; build-up play – that’s a joke, obviously.
“He knows his job and what his role in the team is, and he’s very good with his back to goal, great link player, but maybe the best thing about him is his personality, so he’s got the whole lot really.
“He had three touches before his fourth was the finish. All of them touches were high quality but he had to make them to create space for himself.
“But the strike is on the half-volley, great timing, no one would have saved that one so anyone would have been proud of that finish.”
Solskjaer has already suggested that a place will be found in his future plans for Ighalo, with United in need of another proven option to lead the line following the 2019 departure of Romelu Lukaku.
The Norwegian has previously said: “It doesn’t hurt [living the dream] but he’s here on merit, he’s here because he is a goalscorer and a different type of striker for us.
“We might get to the summer and think we want to extend this, who knows?”