Odion Ighalo’s stay at Manchester United is set to continue for another seven months with reports that the Red Devils and his Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua are close to an agreement to extend his loan.
Ighalo, 30, joined boyhood club United on a short-term loan deal on transfer deadline day in January as cover for striker Marcus Rashford, who had been ruled out by a back injury.
His original contract with United which expires on Sunday, 31 May (today) was initially supposed to run until the end of the Premier League campaign.
However, with professional football in England suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season is set to spill over into June and July with nine rounds of matches remaining.
The situation has seen United locked in negotiations with Shenhua over the past couple of weeks to extend the former Super Eagles striker loan deal.
Shenhua had previously indicated a willingness to allow Ighalo stay at United but only if the Red Devils stumped up the cash for a permanent deal.
While United had indicated a willingness to sign the Nigerian permanently before the season went into abeyance, it is understood the manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer is no longer keen.
Solsjkaer would, however, like to keep him for the rest of the season, given they are still in three competitions and could play up to 18 games in just over two months.
Shenhua, meanwhile, want the striker back with the Chinese Super League expected to begin next month.
But with reports that border restrictions in China might prevent Ighalo from returning in time for the start of the CSL, it appears Shenhua are now more amenable to Ighalo remaining in England albeit on a temporary basis.
Reports in England indicate that a deal to extend the former Watford striker’s stay at Old Trafford until 30 January is now “looking most likely”.
A lifelong United fan, Ighalo has proved a success and has scored four goals in eight appearances including a memorable volley in the 5-0 win at Lask on 12 March.