Femi Solaja with agency report
With the euphoria that greeted Odion Ighalo’s loan extension at Old Trafford, former Manchester United forward, Dimitar Berbatov, has urged the former Super Eagles striker to “fight for a permanent contract” and not the super sub role he is expected to play when the season restarts on June 17.
Ighalo was due to return to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua at the end of May after a five-month stint at Old Trafford, but the former English Premiership champions were reluctant to lose a man who proved to be a surprise hit among supporters before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And last Monday the two clubs reached an agreement that enables the highest goal scorer at the last AFCON 2019 tournament to fulfil his heart desire to reject mega pay in China and remain with one of the elite clubs in the world.
Ighalo, whose only previous Premier League experience was at Watford between 2015 and 2017, scored four goals in his first three starts for United after signing for the club on winter deadline day last January.
He has proved himself as a more than capable backup striker in the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford.
Now, he’s due to compete alongside the England international, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood for a starting place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad when the Premier League resumes on June 17.
And former Bulgarian star, Berbatov, has been impressed by the impact Ighalo has had at the Theatre of Dreams in such a short period of time, and thinks he should build on a bright start to life in Manchester by trying to convince United to sign him outright.
“It is great news, for club and player, that United have extended the loan
of Odion Ighalo,” the former United centre-forward told Betfair.
“The way he linked with the other players, his interaction with the team and everything he did was top quality for the time he was given to play.
“Now, Ighalo has a massive challenge ahead of him to prove that it was the right decision from the club.
“Now that he’s staying until 31 January 2021, why not go out there and show the club why he should stay for even longer? Why not fight for a permanent contract?
“He’s a great boost for the team and it puts United in a strong position.”
Berbatov added on the impending resumption of top-flight English football after a three-month hiatus: “It’s great news that the Premier League is going to return.
“It is going to happen behind closed doors, for obvious reasons, and I am curious to see how physically and mentally prepared the teams are.
“It will be interesting to see how long it will take for games to reach a similar level of quality, speed and intensity to how they were before the stoppage.
“But overall this is a great step in the right direction.”