The former Red Devils centre-back has been impressed with the immediate affect the Nigerian has had since arriving at Old Trafford on loan.
Odion Ighalo has brought a much-needed bodily presence to Manchester United ‘s attack, according to Rio Ferdinand, who thinks the experienced forward has already earned a permanent contract.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a late gamble in the January transfer window as he sought an extra striker to supply cover for the injured Marcus Rashford, turning to a man who had spent the remaining three years of his career in the Chinese Super League.
Ighalo joined United on a six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, returning to the Premier League after a preceding stint at Watford between 2015 and 2017.
The shock move was in the beginning considered as a damning indictment of how far the Red Devils have fallen in terms of recruitment, however the Nigerian has managed to defy his critics and play his part in an incredible unbeaten run.
Ighalo has found the net 4 instances in his first three starts for United, showing off his capacity to hold the ball up and convey others into play whilst pushing first-choice frontman Anthony Martial to raise his game.
Goal has learned that the 30-year-old is open to extending his stay at Old Trafford beyond the summer, however his future is very much up in the air amid the coronavirus pandemic which had gripped the world.
With the 2019-20 presently on hiatus, it is no longer yet known when the transfer market will reopen or certainly when regular service can resume at clubs throughout the Premier League.
Ferdinand says that Ighalo has managed to prove him and everybody else wrong over the last few months and that he would be delighted to see United hand him a full-time contract.
“Wow, eight games, three starts in that, 4 goals and one assist. Ighalo, do you sign him for Manchester United now?” the ex-Red Devils defender stated in the course of a Q&A on Instagram.
“All the people that out there that had been saying: ‘What are we doing signing Ighalo? What’s going on? What’s Ole thinking?’ – I was one of them, I have to admit it.
“Ighalo’s been in China , the league’s nowhere close to what the Premier League is so how is he going get up to speed? Is he going to be ready straight away? We want someone to come and make an impact immediately. Coming from China , impossible.
“Well, he’s proved us all wrong. This man has proved us all wrong. It’s fresh to see someone who is like a supporter, who is thankful.
“He looks like he’s actually delighted to be at Manchester United. He’s been a Manchester United supporter his whole life.
He looks like he’s saying ‘thank you’ each and every day he walks up to Ole for giving him this opportunity.
“He’s not someone who says ‘Manchester United are fortunate to have me here’ – that’s the vibe I’ve got for a little while and that’s not just United, that’s different clubs as well.
“This boy appears like he’s pleased to be here: ‘Whatever you tell me to do I’m going to go out there and do it to the satisfactory of my ability.
I’m going to provide you a hundred per cent each day in training and in matches because I love this club and I choose to do right through this club’. I love it.
“It’s startled me to see what he’s done. Listen, we’re not talking like he’s turned Man United into world-beaters however United needed some thing and he’s added it in and given it and that’s all you can ask for.
“And I suppose he’s warranted the chance to come in as a full-time player and what he’s given Manchester United which they didn’t have is someone they can pass the ball into and can hold it up, he’s bought a physical presence, he can keep off a defender or two and lay the ball in for any individual else to score.”
Ferdinand went on to draw comparisons between Ighalo and Henrik Larsson, the Swedish poacher who grew to become a cult favourite amongst United fans after a three-month loan spell at Old Trafford back in 2007.
“[Marcus] Rashford, when he’s fit, will appreciate playing with anybody like this,” Ferdinand continued. “He can have the impact on the Rashfords, on the Martials, on Daniel James etc. That any individual like Larsson, who can have [an influence] on the likes of [Wayne] Rooney and [Louis] Saha when he used to be there.
“That little bit of experience. He’s acquired something that’s different to all the other guys in the team and you want that sometimes.”