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How COVID-19 forced Chinese club to hands off on Ighalo

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 27, 2020 Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 27, 2020. – Manchester United extended Odion Ighalo’s loan spell until January 2021 on June 1, 2020 to ensure the Nigerian striker will be able to finish the 2019/20 season with the Premier League club. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Odion Ighalo’s Chinese club, Shanghai Shenhua, yesterday admitted that the ‘uncertainty’ around when foreigners will be allowed to return to China after the coronavirus crisis played a part in their decision to allow him to extend his loan deal with Manchester United in England.

Ighalo is staying at Manchester United after agreeing to extend his loan contract until the end of January 2021, the club confirmed yesterday morning.

The Nigerian striker’s loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua was set to come to an end yesterday, but United have been able to extend it into next year.

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According to dailymail.co.uk, United will pay a portion of Ighalo’s wages and a fee to Shanghai. A new contract in China understood to be worth approaching £400,000 per week, will be discussed after his United loan ends.

The 30-year-old has proved a hit at Old Trafford since his temporary move earlier this year and has scored four times in eight appearances.

Last week, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: ‘They [Shanghai Greenland Shenhua] have been great towards us, allowing him to play for his dream club. It’s been a dream for him and hopefully, he can finish what he started and win a trophy with us.’

Ighalo’s agent, Atta Aneke, had revealed on Sunday that a deal was close to being agreed between the two parties.

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“We are nearing an agreement with Manchester United on an extended loan,’ Aneke told Norwegian outlet Nettavisen. ‘The agreement will mean that Ighalo will remain with them until January 2021.”

Ighalo initially joined Solskjaer’s United in a shock deadline-day move in January after the club had missed out on signing Norwegian star Erling Haaland to Borussia Dortmund.

His memorable strikes so far in a United shirt have included a stunning volley in the Europa League win over LASK Linz as well as a double in the FA Cup against Derby to help his side through to the quarter-final stage.

Ighalo’s current contract in China expires in December 2022, but Shanghai wants to keep him until at least December 2024.

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