Manchester United begin last-minute talks over Ighalo

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Manchester United is negotiating with Shanghai Shenhua over an extension to Odion Ighalo’s loan deal at Old Trafford.

The striker arrived in January on a deal until the summer, but the season’s interruption due to the coronavirus crisis has left his future up in the air.

The 31-year-old Nigerian international is contracted with United until May 31, meaning his spell in Manchester would end tomorrow.

Back at the end of January, it was understandably expected that the Red Devils’ season would have ended by now.

But the prolonged campaign will run on until at least the end of July, while United are also set to compete in the latter knockout stages of the Europa League in August.

Ighalo is wanted back in China but discussions are taking place between United and Shanghai Shenhua over the goalscorer’s immediate future.

The ex-Watford ace surprised many with some impressive displays in a red shirt during February and March.

And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not ready to lose back-up frontman Ighalo with plenty to play for when the football season restarts, including United’s pursuit of Champions League qualification.

Goal said there is hope a deal can be struck between the two clubs that would see Ighalo remain at United until January 2021.

Confidence is said to be growing that a last-minute deal can be ironed out, with another loan fee expected from United if it is sorted.

The Chinese Super League’s season runs differently through the year to the Premier League’s, meaning Shanghai Shenhua may well allow Ighalo to continue with United until 2021.

Marcus Rashford is back fit now and will be available to Solskjaer from June 17 when games begin again, but Ighalo is a useful option to have, especially as the fixture calendar will be congested for several weeks.

If an agreement can be reached, FIFA will allow the extension to Ighalo’s loan deal as part of new rules surrounding contracts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs can agree to temporarily extend deals of out-of-contract players so as to allow them to play out the season.

Ighalo could ultimately remain with United for half of next season too, although the start date of the 2020/21 campaign is unclear as yet.

The likely hope is to have a shortened summer break off the back of the two-and-a-half month interruption from the coronavirus crisis, meaning next season could be underway as soon as late September.

That would allow for less disruption to next season’s schedule ahead of the Euro 2020 and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo finally taking place next summer.

theeagleonline.com.ng

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