Former Super Eagles of Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo has revealed he deliberately took a pay cut to make his dream move to Manchester United happen. The striker, who is a lifelong Reds supporter, made this known during his first interview with the club’s website on Wednesday.
Ighalo joined United from Shanghai Shenhua on loan until the end of the season for £3million, which does not include an option to buy should Ighalo impress at Old Trafford. The striker earned a weekly wage of £300,000 at the Chinese club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have agreed to pay just a third of his wage (£100,000) after Ighalo agreed to a pay cut.
The Nigerian will provide short-term cover for the injured England international Marcus Rashford, who is expected to be sidelined for up to six months with a back problem. The 22-year-old suffered the injury coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup replay with Wolves. United were also linked to other strikers such as Leicester City’s Islam Slimani, Bournemouth striker Josh King, former West Brom forward Salomon Rondon and PSG striker Edinson Cavani.
Speaking to the club website, the former Watford striker said when he was young he supported United because of former United strikers such as Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. He added that he never thought he would play for the Red Devils before retiring.
“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,” Ighalo said.
“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, so I’m very happy to be here and this is going to be a big and good challenge for me in my career.”
The 30-year old further said that he rejected few other clubs who were interested in signing him but he was so determined to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
“A few other clubs had shown interest,” Ighalo said. “I said ‘please, just pick United, if it’s going to be possible’.
“At 11pm in Shanghai, my agent called me (to say) that United want to do the deal, so I woke up that night and started looking for a translator to go to the directors’ room and hit his door and all that. ‘My agent wants to speak to you, United are coming for me, you have to make this happen’ and all that you know.
According to the Nigerian, he believes he will bring another style of attack to Solskjaer’s squad. He said he will offer something different to the way United play upfront.
“They have a striker that stays mostly in the middle, because (Anthony) Martial likes to come from the side, even Rashford and all that,” he said, having called injured Rashford “one of the best, if not the best player in Europe right now”.
“So, you need someone in the middle that can keep the ball, hold the ball, because I’ve watched so many United games.
“So, they need a physicality there up front to keep the ball, to give and to make some movement, which I believe, if everything goes well, I can add to the team.”
Ighalo added that he will ” add my own path to make sure the season finishes well for United” and could think of nothing better than ending his loan with silverware.
“I don’t know what I’m going to say about that because talking about it is different to when you win it and the emotions, the joy and the happiness that comes.
“So, it’s going to be a lifetime experience, it’s going to be something I’m going to cherish all the years of my life because not only playing for Manchester United but winning a trophy with them, is something different that’s going to be in my memories all my life.”