Odion Ighalo earns Nigeria recall 10 months after leaving Manchester United

When you look at Manchester United’s star studded strike force of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, it seems impossible to reconcile that Odion Ighalo was leading the line not so long ago.

This time last year Ighalo was still a Manchester United player.

Ighalo only left United in January, when his extended loan deal expired.

Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images

He since signed with Saudi side Al Shabab and he has this week earned a recall to Nigeria’s international squad.

Ighalo will feature in the upcoming qualifiers and hopes to earn a place in the upcoming African Nations Cup, having finished as top scorer in the 2019 tournament.

Mixed reaction

Ighalo’s name was trending on Twitter last night due the the mixed response his call up generated.

There is a view that by playing in Saudi Arabia, he is not playing in a competitive enough league, and there are better, younger options.

Former Nigerian international Garba Lawal believes Ighalo’s call-up is a positive for the team.

Lawal told Goal: “He has the experience, so I will say this is a fantastic development. Truth be told, his experience is needed because those younger players like [Kelechi] Iheanacho, and [Taiwo] Awoniyi need someone like him around them.”

Ighalo has 16 goals for Nigeria in 35 appearances. He is probably a long shot for Qatar 2022, but you can’t quite rule it out.

The striker had previously retired from international football after the 2019 AFCON, before the move to Manchester United reinvigorated his career and prompted him to declare himself available once again.

In Saudi Arabia, Ighalo has a strong record. He has scored nine goals in 10 games for Al Shabab this season, with the team sitting third in the league.

In total he has 18 goals in 23 appearances for the club plus a further three assists.

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