Odion Ighalo has revealed that he had offers to stay in the Premier League from West Ham and West Brom, but he felt there was nothing left for him to achieve in England after already living out his ‘dream’ of playing for Manchester United.
Ighalo joined United in January 2020 as a deadline day loan signing from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, brought in as emergency cover and relief for the club’s existing forwards.
The former Watford star became the first Nigerian to play for United and became something of an instant cult hit among fans thanks to early goals in the FA Cup and Europa League. His loan was even extended until January 2021, although he rarely featured once Edinson Cavani arrived in the summer.
After my initial loan was extended, I did not play much which was perhaps a bit unfair but as I said, I am always grateful for the opportunity,” Ighalo told Sky Sports.
“When I joined, I always knew I wouldn’t be playing every game because I was signing as a back-up striker so I knew playing time was going to be limited. There were certain games where I thought I would play but that’s the decision of the coach and I am not holding anything against anyone.”
Following the end of his United loan, Ighalo has since also left parent club Shanghai Shenhua and is now playing for Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia, who are seeking to win the Saudi Pro League this season for the first time since 2012.
“There was the possibility of West Ham and West Brom to stay in the Premier League, which I thought about,” Ighalo explained. “But after being at Manchester United, the biggest club in England if not the world, what else could I possibly do in the Premier League?
“I had good offers to stay in England, but I just didn’t think I could stay after achieving my dream of playing for the club I had supported since I was young.
“I came all the way from China because it was Manchester United when I had already rejected other offers because United has always been my dream.
“I’m so happy that my path crossed with Manchester United – it’s the club I love with all my heart and for all my life so playing for them was a big privilege that I do not take for granted.
“No matter the circumstances that led me to leave, I will always be grateful to the coach, my teammates, the fans, and everyone around Manchester United.”