Manchester United have finally revealed that former Nigerian international Odion Jude Ighalo would wear the jersey number 25 at the club. Ighalo became United’s second January signing after Bruno Fernandes joined the club on Thursday for a fee of £68m from Sporting Lisbon.
The Red Devils revealed Ighalo’s jersey number on their verified Twitter handle on Tuesday. The Nigerian becomes the ninth United player to wear the no. 25 shirt. Erstwhile striker Quinton Fortune wore the jersey number during his seven years at Old Trafford and former United captain Antonio Valencia was the last player to wear it before leaving Old Traffford for a return to Ecuador last summer.
The Red Devils completed a last-minute loan signing of the former Nigerian international from Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season. United secured the deal worth £3million, which does not include an option to buy should Ighalo impress at Old Trafford.
According to reports, the former Watford striker picked the number because erstwhile Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu wore it during his spell at the North London club and it is popular in Nigeria.
Ighalo is working on his fitness in Manchester while his teammates are enjoying their holiday time during the winter break. However, he would join the rest of the squad when they head off for warm weather training next week in Spain. And the 30-year-old will no doubt be looking forward to his first training session as he’s already described his move as a dream.
“It’s been crazy you know,” Ighalo told Sky Sports News in his first interview. “I’m happy to be in Manchester first and this is a great opportunity for me.
“I’m grateful to God and to my agent and to the coach who’s given me the opportunity to be here, to walk out with the team and finish very well this season.
“It’s a dream come true because since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed about Man United. But this is reality now, so I can’t say much until I get started.”
Ighalo 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. The 22-year-old suffered the injury coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup replay with Wolves.
United settled for Ighalo after been 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.
The 30-year-old knows the Premier League very well, having played at Watford between 2014 and 2017. During his time at Vicarage Road, he scored 16 goals in 55 Premier League appearances and scored 40 goals in 100 appearances across all competitions before leaving for China. His first stint in the Chinese Super League was with Changchun Yatai before he joined Shanghai Shenhua in February 2019.
The striker currently earns a weekly wage of £300,000 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have agreed to pay just a third of his wage (£100,000). The former Super Eagles of Nigeria striker is expected to make his debut for his new club against Chelsea on February 17 after the winter break.
The 30-year-old has netted 46 times in 70 games in the Chinese Super League across three years. He also finished as top scorer in African Cup of Nations qualifying for Nigeria with seven goals, before scoring five at the tournament last summer.
Speaking about Ighalo’s arrival, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Odion is an experienced player. He will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he’s staying with us.
“A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here.”
The striker, who is a lifelong Reds supporter, is set to bolster United squad for the second half of the campaign, as the club competes in the Premier League, UEFA Europa League, and Emirates FA Cup.
He began his professional career in his native Nigeria with local clubs Prime and Julius Berger, before sealing a transfer to Norwegian side Lyn in 2007. A year later, a move to Udinese in Italy eventually led to loan spells with Granada, Cesena and Watford in the Premier League.
While at Vicarage Road with the Hornets, Ighalo impressed and he made three appearances against United and one at Old Trafford, losing twice and winning once, while also earning an assist.