Odion Ighalo has confirmed he wants to stay at Manchester United beyond the expiry date of his loan contract.
Ighalo, 30, has scored four goals in eight appearances and quickly became popular with supporters before English and European football was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Nigerian international is on loan at United from Shanghai Shenhua and his loan deal runs until June 30, although players’ contracts could be extended to the end of the season.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested United would be open to signing Ighalo permanently after their last match against LASK Linz and the boyhood fan outlined his interest in a Twitter Q&A.
A user said to Ighalo: “Would love to remain in Manchester United if you are offered a contract extension #Ighalo.” Ighalo replied: “Of course.”
United have refused to comment on Ighalo’s contract situation and – as it stands – the Nigerian would be under no obligation to play for them after his contract ends, but extensions could be arranged for loan and out of contract players.
Fifa said it is monitoring the issue of players’ contracts in a statement last month: “Fifa is analysing the current situation and the potential impact it may have on all areas of football, including player contracts. More information will follow in due course.”
United do not have an option to buy Ighalo, who was strictly viewed as a short-term fix, but his superb start at Old Trafford has delighted Solskjaer.
“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.”
“He’s 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.”