Ighalo had been playing in China since 2017 for Changchun Yatai and then Shanghai Shenhua
Odion Ighalo’s agent admits even the player himself was shocked by his deadline-day move to Manchester United.
Ighalo, 30, has been signed on a six-month loan until the end of the season from Shanghai Shenhua. The Nigerian striker is expected to arrive from China over the next few days in time to link up with United on their warm-weather training camp in Marbella.
A boyhood United fan, Ighalo has appeared at Old Trafford for Watford but never thought he would play for his favourite club after leaving the Premier League three years ago for Changchun Yatai and then Shanghai.
Odion Ighalo’s agent revealed even the player himself was surprised by his deadline-day moveIghalo’s representative, Norwegian agent Atta Aneke, revealed that United did not make their move until halfway through deadline day on Friday and it caught the Ighalo camp by surprise after they thought the deal had gone dead.
‘He has been a United supporter since childhood,’ said Aneke. ‘It’s incredibly big. When he left for China, he did not expect him to be brought to United as a 30-year-old.
‘I talked to Manchester United’s top boss (Ed Woodward) for a few days in advance. It was quiet on Thursday and then I got the impression that nothing would happen. Suddenly, in the middle of the day on Friday, things started to move.
‘It was then 11pm in the evening in Shanghai. It was hectic phone business. Everyone had to stay awake until 5am or 6am in Shanghai.’
Aneke brought Ighalo to Norway 13 years ago after discovering the player in Nigeria and praised the former Udinese and Granada player for his loyalty.
‘He’s an amazing person,’ he added. ‘ If you see what he’s doing off the field. He has opened an orphanage with 20-30 kids, who are now also allowed to go to school.
‘Every month he sends money to widows from the area he is from in Nigeria. It is a person who is successful. He is not one of those who thinks of himself.
‘It’s fun when you see players like him. He has been loyal since day one. I have worked with him for 13 years. Then it’s extra fun to be rewarded that way.’
The Nigerian thought the deal had gone dead before it gathered pace at midday on Friday