Odion Ighalo started his second game of the season in midweek and missed his only chance, hitting the side netting in the first half.
He was substituted off after 68 minutes against Brighton, having failed to impress in the 3-0 victory.
It is crucially important United have a prolific striker able to put pressure on Anthony Martial, who has himself begun the season slowly.
Ighalo it appears lately, is not that man. He has seemingly lost the trust of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who did not pick him to start a single Premier League game after lockdown.
Down against Sevilla in the Europa League semi-final with five substitutes permitted, Ighalo was only called on as a 90th minute substitute.
This is a far cry from the way Ighalo started at United. He scored four goals in his first three starts, and the lockdown came at totally the wrong time for him.
Ighalo has lost momentum, and some of the feelgood factor about his move to his boyhood club has faded into the background.
United made a decision in May to extend Ighalo’s loan deal, with the agreement running to the end of January 2021.
This has allowed United to take a closer look at the Nigerian striker.
Shanghai Shenhua wanted a fee of £20 million from United to sign Ighalo on a permanent deal, The Mail reported.
Amid the emotion of his dream move coming to reality, and his excellent pre-lockdown form, this was a reasonably tempting proposition.
But United took the view that this was poor value. Perhaps for half the price, a permanent deal could have been done.
What has happened since shows that United were correct not to pay £20 million for Ighalo.
Ighalo is a striker who if he got five chances per match, he would score each game.
However, in his recent matches against LASK, Luton, and Brighton, he has had three shots combined, and failed to score.
For the role United need him for, United need a more clinical and ruthless striker, a player in the Chicharito mould, who can come off the bench and make the most of his minutes, and seize his opportunities when he does start.
Ighalo’s lack of recent impact has prompted speculation linking the club to Edinson Cavani and Luka Jovic [via Di Marzio]
It is fair to say Ighalo has not had many opportunities under Solskjaer lately, but this reinforces that United were right not to commit to sign him permanently.
If Solskjaer was really convinced, Ighalo would be playing a bigger role than he has done over the past few months.
He can still lift his game and become a bigger contributor between now and the end of January, United need him to.
But beyond that, United need to look at a different solution.
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