Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested he may look to sign Odion Ighalo permanently in the summer transfer window. The 30-year-old netted again in the Red Devils’ Europa League last-16 first-leg win over LASK Linz on Thursday night.
The Nigerian scored the first goal of a 5-0 thrashing in Austria, brilliantly juggling the ball after Bruno Fernandes’ pass and drilling in off the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the area.
He also assisted Daniel James for the second goal before United added further efforts through Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira in the last 10 minutes at Linzer Stadion.
That all but puts United into the quarter finals of the competition and improves Ighalo’s record to four goals in eight games.
The 30-year-old has done well since joining on loan from Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua in January and the boyhood United supporter is currently averaging a direct goal contribution every 64 minutes.
Such involvement has established him as massively popular with the club’s supporters and allowed Solskjaer to rotate his forwards, allowing Anthony Martial vital rest while Marcus Rashford is sidelined by a back injury.
And the Norwegian coach has now hinted that he may look to make Ighalo’s switch permanent, insisting that they will still need the skillset that the former Watford frontman offers next season.
“Odion has done really well since he came in and he’s enjoying himself,” Solskjaer said.
“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.
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 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 repeatedly hinted already that he may look to sign Ighalo permanently.
He said in March: “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?”
That was after having told journalists a month earlier: “It’s a loan, but when you’re in the door and if you impress it gives you a chance. That’s exactly the same for everyone who signs if it’s permanent or it’s a loan.
“If you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, then of course there’s a chance that we’ll look at extending things.
“That doesn’t just go for Odion, but since you asked, yes, of course his incentive is to play as well as he can. And it’s up to us to make sure that he’d want to stay if we wanted him.”
Ighalo could lead the line against Tottenham on Sunday (4.30pm) with Martial having missed the win over LASK with injury.