Odion Ighalo looks set to leave Manchester United at the end of his loan spell this week, with parent club Shanghai Shenhua keen to have the striker back ahead of the start of the Chinese Super League season.
Ighalo has been a hit at Old Trafford since signing a loan deal on the final day of the January transfer window, scoring four times for his boyhood club.
But his loan spell looks set to end after eight appearances, with his initial deal only penned until May 31. United’s season will now extend well beyond that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that has caused a suspension to the campaign, with United not playing since their 5-0 demolition of LASK Linz on March 12.
United still have nine Premier League games to play and remain in the Europa League and the FA Cup. They are keen to keep Ighalo until the end of this season and have held discussions with Shanghai Shenhua about extending the loan deal.
However, the Chinese authorities are now hopeful of beginning the Chinese Super League season in late June or early July, and as a result his club are keen to have the 30-year-old striker back in the fold.
The initial loan came at a time when the CSL season was yet to begin and China was the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the country is now reporting far fewer cases and there is confidence the 2020 campaign could get underway within the next six weeks.
Ighalo has been keen to remain at Old Trafford. He has made no secret of his love for the club and has relished every minute of his unexpected move to United.
Ighalo was signed on deadline day as United’s frantic search for a striker in the wake of Marcus Rashford’s back injury came to an end. The Nigerian’s impact at the club he supported as a boy has far exceeded expectations, with goals in all of his starts for the club, but with Rashford now fit and available again United are relaxed about the prospect of losing Ighalo at the end of this week.