Odion Ighalo has made a positive impression since signing for Manchester United on loan in January.
He has scored five goals from four starts, with the latest an expertly taken volley against Norwich City in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final.
But perhaps the biggest impact Ighalo has had is when he is not on the pitch, for since he arrived, Anthony Martial has a new lease of life.
While possible to point towards added competition for Martial’s rejuvenation, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that Ighalo is actually helping the Frenchman out.
Solskjaer told Sky Sports: “Odion is a seasoned No 9. He’s played that position his whole career whereas Anthony has played more out on the wing. Odion is helping on the training pitch, in terms of his movement, hold-up play and just being himself… Anthony’s learning off an experienced centre-forward“
After his hat-trick against Sheffield United last week, Martial now has seven goals in his last seven starts.
Solskjaer added: “We do a lot of work in finishing groups and sessions but it’s also down to him (Martial) to be mentally sharp and ready. We’ve always known he’s a quality player and highly, highly skilful.”
Embracing the help
Martial already has one of United’s all-time lethal finishers to learn from directly, Solskjaer himself.
Ighalo has been providing his own tutelage about hold-up play and being a centre-forward in the modern game.
Martial has embraced the help and United are stronger for it. Martial is now up to 19 goals for the season in all competitions heading into tonight’s match with Brighton.
Ighalo will be judged like most strikers, by his goals, and he is doing a good job so far.
Yet his legacy may live on long past the expiry of his loan contract next January.
If Martial is still banging in goals for United in 2025, there will be a little part of him which always has Ighalo to thank, for adding a little more focus and sharpness to his centre-forward play.
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