Odion Ighalo has become a cult hero at Manchester United in his short time at the club.

His future remains unclear, amid reports United want to sign him and Shanghai Shenhua wish to retain him [SkySports]

Ighalo has helped United to a recent unbeaten run, but it could have been very different.

Last season Ighalo rejected the chance to sign for Barcelona. It was a bold call, and one he had total conviction in.

(Photo by UEFA – Handout/UEFA via Getty Images )

He told BBC Sport: “My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football.

“It was meant to be a six-month loan and strictly as a back-up striker. It was nice to hear that Barcelona were interested and any footballer would be more than happy to take it.

“But with due respect I had just finished as the second top scorer in China with 21 goals, I deserve better and didn’t want to be a short-term player somewhere. We rejected it, it was an easy decision to make.”

 

A better opportunity

Ighalo’s decision to wait paid off. He landed a dream loan move to Manchester United in Janaury.

The decision to accept a loan move made more sense this January amid uncertainty in China, and the fact United were his boyhood team growing up.

While the deal with Barcelona would have been a short-term one, it would have put him in the shop window last summer and there is a strong chance he would not have been available at the end of January 2020 like he was, fortunately for us.

(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

There are other sliding doors moments too. If Ighalo had joined Barcelona, he would have played against United in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. Perhaps at the time he ended up regretting missing out on a chance to play at Old Trafford again.

We can also wonder if he would have made the different for Barcelona in their semi-final defeat to Liverpool, which ended with them going on to win the competition.

Ighalo may have missed out on a Champions League medal, but he probably wouldn’t swap it for the experience he has had at United this season.

Bold calls like the one Ighalo made usually end up in regret. Instead he can be pleased with the way it all works out, and eventually, there could be more to come from him at United.

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