Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr has expressed delight at the transfer of Odion Ighalo to Manchester United describing the move as “good news for Nigerian football”.
Ighalo, 30, was snapped up on a six-month loan deal by the Red Devils in a left-field move that took everyone one by surprise on transfer deadline day.
The move marks a return to the Premier League for Ighalo after his two and a half years stay at Watford during which he scored 40 goals in 100 games in all competitions for the Hornets.
The Shanghai Shenhua player, a life-long United fan, arrived in Manchester on Sunday and will meet manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and his new teammates today.
Rohr shares a close relationship with the Nigerian striker who he prevailed upon to rescind his decision to retire from international duty following vitriolic abuse directed at him and his family after many blamed his miss against Argentina for the Super Eagles crashing out at the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Ighalo’s decision to come back into the national fold proved to be a masterstroke as he top-scored in the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the tournament proper as Nigeria won bronze before hanging up his international boots for the final time.
Reacting to Ighalo’s return to England, Rohr whose voice betrayed his clear excitement hinted at holding a conversation with Ighalo about a possible return to the international fold for a third spell.
The Franco-German who is set to begin negotiations with the Nigerian Football Federation on an extension to his Super Eagles contract in London later this month said he’s been in touch with Ighalo but will travel to England for a physical meeting soon.
“Of course, everybody is happy about the signature of Ighalo for [Manchester United], it’s a wonderful transfer for him. I hope that he will be happy there, he will play and I will go and see him of course, now,” Rohr told ESPN football writer Colin Udoh.
“It’s good to leave China now for several reasons, and I hope that we can see him again very soon. I spoke with him, he’s happy. It’s good news for Nigerian football.”
With Manchester United currently embarking on a midseason break, Ighalo will be in line for his debut when the Red Devils visit Chelsea on 17 February.