MANCHESTER, England, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Nigerian striker and boyhood Manchester United fan Odion Ighalo has said he agreed to take a pay cut to ensure his move to the Premier League club went through on transfer deadline day.
United made a surprise swoop for Ighalo before the window shut on Jan. 31, signing the 30-year-old on loan until the end of the season from Shanghai Shenhua after failing to land their prime January target, Norwegian Erling Haaland.
Ighalo, who scored 16 goals in 35 games for Nigeria before retiring from international football after winning the Golden Boot at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, was at Watford before moving to China but said joining United was a dream come true.
“It was very dramatic,” he told the United website here. “My agent called me the day before and said Man United … A few other clubs had shown interest, I said: ‘Please, just pick United, if it’s going to be possible’.
“At 11 p.m. in Shanghai, my agent called me (to say) that United want to do the deal… I didn’t sleep throughout that night.
“There was paperwork, negotiating and all that … So we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me, but I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here.
“He said: ‘You’re going to get a pay cut to go to United’. I said I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United. I don’t care how much is the pay cut… make it happen.”
Ighalo added that he had supported United since his youth and that his mother burst into tears when she heard the news.
“I called my mum and she was happy, crying, ‘This is your dream and I’m happy for you’,” he said. “It was dramatic. I was very happy that finally we got the deal done.”
United, who only had Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial as striking options prior to signing Ighalo due Marcus Rashford’s back injury, are seventh in the league table, six points behind the final Champions League qualifying place. (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris)