Manchester United’s eleventh hour loan signing of Odion Ighalo was the desperate act of a desperate club.
And although most of the 45 striker names linked with a move to Old Trafford in the January window, including Islam Slimani, Carlos Tevez and Olivier Giroud, were never really considered by the Red Devils, at least ten are believed to have been selected ahead of the incoming Nigerian.
First choice, of course, was Norwegian wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland, who came close to reuniting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before ultimately joining Borussia Dortmund after United could not agree terms with those involved.
Once the Haaland deal fell through, the Reds are believed to have made enquiries about Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho but the German club refused to let the player go in the middle of the season.
Next was RB Leipzig’s French Under-21 international Jean-Kevin Augustin, who opted to join Leeds United after United ‘came to the table far too late and in a far too disorganised way’, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein.
Following that disappointment and with the window closing in just a week, United turned their attentions to PSG’s Edinson Cavani, but the player was cool on the deal, preferring a move to Atletico Madrid which ultimately did not materialise.
Then came Real Sociedad’s Willian José. The player was offered to United around two days before the window closed but after considering the deal, the Red Devils decided not to pursue it.
In the last 24 hours of the window, negotiators Ed Woodward and Matt Judge then made enquiries about Southampton’s Danny Ings, Napoli’s Dries Mertens and Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, but in each case the selling club said it was too late in the day to find a replacement and turned United down.
Next on the list was Bournemouth’s Joshua King. This came close to being realised, but again, the selling club were unable to find a replacement in time and had to pull the plug on the transfer.
With just hours to go, the Reds then attempted to sign Dalian Yifang’s Salomon Rondon on loan, but a deal could not be reached.
And it was at this point that Manchester United made their move for Odion Ighalo.
Former player Gary Neville was scathing about the transfer fiasco in a discussion on Sky Sports. ‘I can’t let the club off the hook … Romelu Lukaku told us a couple of weeks ago that he had said he was going to leave last February or March…That’s nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position to sign a striker for the club for the long-term. And yet they have ended up desperately doing one on Deadline Day…the fact that the club were in that position, knowing that Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United, at this moment in time, are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly.’
That is putting it mildly.
Ighalo may prove to be a success at Old Trafford and there is at least now some cover for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood in the number 9 position. But one thing is painfully clear: it has been another humiliating transfer window for Manchester United.