- Mulls striker’s return to Super Eagles
- Jersey no 25 calling!
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – As Football fans and pundits eagerly welcome the arrival of former Nigerian international, Odion Ighalo at Old Trafford following the surprised move from Shanghai Shenhua of China to English premiership side, Manchester United, Coach Getnot Rohr is already dreaming of his possible return to the Super Eagles fold.
Without any second thought, the German-born Manager is upbeat that the January 31 deadline-day transfer to The Theatre of Dreams presents a big boast and has opened the national team door to Ighalo, who called it quit after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt where he won highest goal scorer award.
An excited Rohr told NationSports; “I am very happy about the transfer of Odion Ighalo to this great club like Manchester United. It is a dream move for him and he can realise his dream with this team; but he has to fight to play with this team (Manchester United).”
According to the 66-year-old Super Eagles’ Coach, the striker would be well received back into the gold if he decides to call off his self-imposed retirement.
Though Ighalo’s departure from the Eagles has seen the blossoming of Lille forward, Victor Osimhen in the team’s striking position, Rohr, who played for Bayern Munich as a defender, said the younger elements in the Super Eagles will benefit even more should the former Watford striker returns to the fold.
“If he (Ighalo) wants to come back to the team (Super Eagles), the door is open because his experience could really help the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Samuel Kalu and other young strikers to progress.
“Now the travelling (from China) will be less for him but he has to first find his rhythm and positioning to play for Manchester United and the changing of mind (to play for the Super Eagles) must come from him.
“All the time, we are in touch. He is such an important player as the best goal scorer at AFCON 2019. He is difficult to replace even if Osimhen is doing so well.
“All is possible even for Ighalo and Osimhen to play together; but we would wait and we would see,” Rohr said.
Still on the move to Old Trafford by Ighalo, Coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who handled him both at Watford and Shanghai Shenhua, has warned that the Nigerian forward would need at least one month to be sharp for the Man United assignment.
“Mainly, the problem is how they train in China. It is not the same as in England,” the Spaniard said in an interview with Daily Mirror.
“Is he really ready for first-team matches in the Premier League because the physical difference is so big? He probably needs one month to recover the full rhythm. The good thing is he knows his body well, works hard on injury prevention and he is always working after training.”
“I should say, also, that I felt in China, he gave exactly the same effort and quality as he gave me four years ago. We had the feeling in China that he could recover a high level with any team in Europe,” Flores volunteered
Ighalo is expected to make his Manchester United debut on Monday, February 17 against Chelsea in a high profile Premier League match immediately after the Winter break.
He had bid farewell to International duty shortly after firing Nigeria to the AFCON Bronze medal with his solitary strike against Tunisia in the third place encounter.
Meanwhile, it has been officially confirmed that Ighalo will be donning jersey No 25 jersey during his temporary stay at the club.
Interestingly, this is the same number that South Africa’s Quinton Fortune wore during his seven years stint at Old Trafford.
Also, the shirt number was previously worn by ex-captain, Antonio Valencia who left Manchester and returned home to Ecuador last summer.
There are reports that Ighalo turned down overtures of another Premier League club to join United, where he is expected to help address a short-term injury challenge for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
He scored 16 times in 55 Premier League appearances for Watford before moving to Changchun Yatai in January 2017, and then Shanghai Shenhua two years later. – With NationSports report