MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Feb 5 – Lifelong Manchester United fan Odion Ighalo said he had no hesitation in taking a pay cut to complete his dream deadline-day switch to Old Trafford, enduring a sleepless night as the deal was hammered out.
United were already short in attack following the summer departures of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku and a back injury sustained by Marcus Rashford, making a reinforcement during the January transfer window of crucial importance to the Old Trafford club.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked at a variety of options and eventually completed a late loan deal for ex-Watford striker Ighalo, who has joined until the end of the season from Shanghai Shenhua.
“I’m very happy,” the Nigeria forward told United’s website. “First, I want say thank God for making this happen and it’s just like a dream come true for me.
“People that know me, even back in Nigeria, and even when I was playing at Watford, my team-mates knew that I loved Man United, I support them. When I played against Man U, that emotion is there, because it is my dream.
“It is a nice reality, so I’m very happy and I’m looking forward to start.”
Ighalo, 30, followed Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes into Old Trafford, with the forward calling his last-minute move “very dramatic”, having been informed by his agent the day before of United’s interest.
“From 11:00 pm (2300 GMT/2am EAT) there was paperwork, negotiating and all that, for the loan deal and all that, so we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me,” he said.
“But I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here.
“He said ‘you’re going to get a pay cut to go to United’. I said I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United. I don’t care how much is the pay cut, I know that, make it happen.”
Ighalo, who will be the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United, said there had been huge excitement among his family and friends.
“It was crazy because, all over the news for the last few days, is about my deal to Man United,” he said. “Even the street I grew up on, they are doing parties, celebrating Ighalo signing for United.”
Solskjaer’s side are currently seventh in the Premier League table, with United a huge 38 points behind runaway leaders and arch-rivals Liverpool.