Odion Ighalo’s loan at Manchester United has been extended, United confirmed, bringing an end to the uncertainty over the striker’s future.
The length of the loan extension is intriguing too.
Instead of just being extended for the end of the 2019/20 season, Ighalo’s deal runs until the end of January 2021.
This gives United options, which we will explore, with regard to a decision over signing another striker.
Ighalo is 30, and he is a short-term option. A valuable one. But United’s long-term move up front is unclear.
There are now three different options available to United thanks to the timing of Ighalo’s extension.
Sign a striker this summer
United could still look to sign a younger striker this summer, and let him compete with both Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo.
Ighalo will just be there as an extra option, for depth, and could allow the new striker to be eased in, without as much pressure.
Options include the likes of Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard, or even Timo Werner.
United could add real strength in depth and look for the added competition to lead to a fast start in 2020/21.
Sign a striker in January
The extension of Ighalo takes the pressure off United needing to secure one of these deals though, and instead of a deal this summer, the club could concentrate transfer funds on other areas.
United could simply delay signing a striker until January, and address the scenario then.
One drawback of this plan is that clubs are less likely to sell top strikers in January than the summer, which led United to an emergency move for Ighalo in the first place.
Sign a striker next summer
This one may be the most likely scenario of all three options.
United would wave goodbye to Ighalo in January 2021, and put faith in Mason Greenwood really kicking on to another level and leading the line.
It’s possible this will happen. Greenwood is an elite talent and United could effectively ‘test run’ him as the main forward, competing with Martial.
United could then sign another back-up or rotational option next summer, or spend big, if neither Martial or Greenwood progress as hoped.
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