Odion Ighalo was a last minute addition to the Manchester United squad during the January transfer window, making a shock return to the Premier League after spending the last two and a half years playing in China.
The Nigerian striker has taken a 50% pay cut to make the move to Old Trafford but revealed in his interview with the club he was desperate to come.
It’s just like a dream come true for me, because I know many people used to say when they join a team, they say that they dream of playing for that team. Mine was not the case. I supported the team when I was young. People that know me, even back in Nigeria, and even when I was playing at Watford, my team-mates knew that I loved Man United, I support them. When I played against Man U, that emotion is there, because it is my dream. It is a nice reality, so I’m very happy and I’m looking forward to start.
When we were young back in Nigeria we used to watch the Premier League on TV a lot, when the likes of Andy Cole used to play. People support Man United a lot back there in Nigeria, so I developed that love, because all of my siblings, they are Man United fans. I never thought this was going to happen, but dreams do come true.
My visit to Old Trafford back in 2013 as fan and now I will be playing in Old Trafford😊 God is the greatest 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/BDW6v2Cxm8
— Odion Jude Ighalo (@ighalojude) February 5, 2020
Ighalo scored 10 goals in 19 games in the Chinese Super League last season and 21 in 28 the year before. With Marcus Rashford out injured, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to bring another forward to the club and made a bid for former United player Josh King. However, with Bournemouth rejecting our £25m offer, Ighalo came instead.
However, as he has travelled from China who are battling with the spread of coronavirus, the club have opted not to take him on the warm weather training break to Marbella this week for fear of travel restrictions having an impact.
Instead, Ighalo will remain in Manchester and undergo double training sessions alongside Team GB’s Olympic Taekwondo team in a bid to get match fit ready for our next game against Chelsea on February 17th.
Performance coach Wayne Richardson, who used to work with Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, will working with Ighalo and has told The Telegraph he was blown away by his work ethic.
By doing these sessions, he wants to hit the ground running and you can see that from the work he’s doing behind the scenes. From the moment he has stepped through the door, he is one of the few players who has blown me away. His determination, drive and willingness. He’s been doing double sessions and we’ve had to hold him back a bit and monitor him because he has fire in his stomach as a professional.
We’ve done testing. We’ve done endurance work, strength and conditioning, flexibility, mobility. There were sprint tests over five, 10, 15, 20 metres, one rep max, isometric pulls, and mid-thigh pulls to see where he is.
From there we can give him endurance work, running box to box, change of direction, change of speed. Ankle, knee and hip movements look at his sprinting, what he can do off the ball, analysis with that is fed back to the player.
In China they’ve basically just started their pre-season so he was possibly two weeks into that but lost two or three days with the travelling and time difference and a key factor has been acclimatising. There is an element of fatigue and we’ve been monitoring him to give him enough recovery time. Core strength which will be important in terms of dealing with the rigours of the Premier League and the big hitters because it will be quicker and faster compared to being out in China where the levels are completely different.
Some people come in and just do the training but this guy has embraced it all and hopefully we have prepared him the best we can.