‘Ighalo has already proved why Man United don’t need Aubameyang’
Odion Ighalo has made a strong impact at Manchester United and he’s proved that the Reds should not attempt to sign Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal fans know what it feels like to have a star striker leave for Manchester United. That’s what Robin van Persie famously did back in the summer of 2012 and Gooners have never forgiven him for it. The Dutch striker might not be the last goalscorer to follow this path, though.
More recently, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford with the Gabon international’s Arsenal future up in the air. The 30-year-old will be out of contract at the end of the 2020/21 season and so if he can’t be signed to a new deal, the Gunners will face a difficult decision on whether to move on their top scorer.
It’s a situation that isn’t entirely dissimilar to the one that resulted in Van Persie becoming a United player. Aubameyang has been Arsenal’s main man for a number of seasons, scoring 49 times in 75 Premier League appearances, but has been starved of the silverware he surely envisaged when he first signed from Borussia Dortmund. Now 30, the striker might seek a move to address this career deficiency while he still can.
Of course, a move to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United certainly wouldn’t come with the guarantee of silverware that Van Persie’s move to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side did, but presuming Aubameyang is keen on a switch where would he fit in at Old Trafford? What would he offer that the Reds don’t currently have?
United are expected to be in the market for a new striker this summer. Romelu Lukaku was never replaced, sold to Inter Milan last year, while injuries to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford this season have exposed just how scarce Solskjaer’s squad options in the final third are.
The signing of Aubameyang would certainly add to United’s goal threat. He would also stand a good chance of striking up a strong relationship with Bruno Fernandes, but at Arsenal the 30-year-old has played his best football on the left side of the attacking prong. This is a role that is already filled at Old Trafford by both Martial and Rashford, with the latter not long signed to a new long term contract.
What Solskjaer needs is a penalty box operator and while Aubameyang is undoubtedly one of the most natural finishers in the Premier League, he is a forward who needs space to thrive. Odion Ighalo, signed on loan from Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season, has shown Man Utd what they are missing.
The Nigerian striker has found the net in every match he’s started for the Old Trafford outfit, scoring in wins over Club Brugge, Derby County and LASK. Ighalo isn’t just a goal scorer, but someone who can play with his back to goal, bringing others into play from a central position. It’s been a long time since United had a striker of this mould.
Some will argue, with some justification, that Ighalo still isn’t of the necessary standard. That a club like United should be targeting players of a much higher calibre. There is some weight to this argument, but the Nigerian is closer to what Solskjaer’s side need than Aubameyang, even if the latter is the far superior player.
Ighalo is averaging 1.85 shots per game, per WhoScored, for United, while Aubameyang is averaging 2.5 for Arsenal. But this doesn’t depict where Aubameyang’s shots mainly come from. United have attempted to fit highly talented square pegs into round holes before with little success. The thought of a player of Aubameyang’s calibre making the move to Old Trafford might be tempting, but he’s not the sort of striker they require.
• Culled from ManchesterEveningNews