Manchester United are only pursuing an extension to Odion Ighalo’s loan deal and have no immediate plans to negotiate a permanent move.
The Nigeria international is due to return to Shanghai Shenhua at the end of the month, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have to conclude the season with reduced options in attack.
With the Premier League aiming to resume the campaign in June, following the coronavirus shutdown, United are hoping to convince Shanghai to allow them to draw up new terms for Ighalo, who arrived in a deadline-day loan deal in January.
While the prospect of a £15million transfer has been mooted, it’s understood United’s focus is on extending their current agreement, which will be allowed after FIFA gave clubs special dispensation to secure short-term deals in the wake of the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Old Trafford’s hierarchy accept there is a very real chance Shanghai will reject any attempt to keep hold of the 30-year-old for longer given the Chinese Super League is set to start.
It is notable that his original deal did not include an option to buy, with United only ever seeing him as a short-term solution before turning their attention to leading strike targets.
Ighalo has been hugely impressive since arriving at Old Trafford – scoring four goals in three starts.
Marcus Rashford’s imminent return from back injury means Solskjaer’s forward line will be boosted when the season resumes – but he is keen to keep Ighalo as cover for Anthony Martial, with United still in contention for Champions League qualification and in both the FA Cup and Europa League.
There remains the possibility United will consider a permanent move for the former Watford striker when the transfer window eventually opens, with Ed Woodward admitting their spending will be hit by the financial impact of coronavirus. But it would require Ighalo to accept a massive reduction in his salary, which is believed to be around £300,000-a-week.
Solskjaer is determined to secure competition for Martial after missing out on Erling-Braut Haaland in January.
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