Wednesday, 29th November 2023

Ighalo’s holiday trip puts Man United Europa League bid at risk

Manchester United have put the club’s Europa League campaign at risk by allowing their stars to go on holiday abroad this week, reports

Manchester United have put the club’s Europa League campaign at risk by allowing their stars to go on holiday abroad this week, reports

Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Odion Ighalo are among the players who jetted off following the end of the Premier League season last weekend ahead of United’s return to European action.

The UK re-imposed 14-day quarantine restrictions on all travellers from Spain last week – catching thousands of British tourists by surprise – and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the travel corridor could be closed on other European countries at short notice amid fears over a second wave of the coronavirus.

Although United are 5-0 up against LASK Linz and certain to progress in next week’s Europa League round of 16 second leg at Old Trafford, the quarter-final is on August 10 which means that any players forced to self-isolate for 14 days would be unavailable for that game as well.

United’s squad are due to report back at the end of the week, although it is unclear how many more of them have travelled abroad.

United insist that no players have gone to countries on the UK’s red list, having checked with the club beforehand and amended their plans accordingly. United also say they will continue to monitor the situation and contact the players if it changes.

At best, however, it would seem to be a needless risk at a time when the government is warning of wider travel restrictions to contain another COVID-19 outbreak and the holiday season teeters on the brink of collapse.

Lindelof’s wife Maja posted pictures of their family in France, one of the countries most in danger of joining Spain on the red list. Matic’s partner Aleksandra Pavic also shared photos of them on board a private jet, while Ighalo was photographed on a yacht abroad.

The Nigeria striker had to quarantine for two weeks after joining United on loan in February from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

Ighalo was unable to train with his new team-mates at Carrington and missed a training camp in Marbella where United were forced to switch hotels because Chinese club Dalian Yifang had stayed there the previous week.

United’s Europa League quarter-final will be staged in Cologne and concern is already growing there after the German health agency said on Tuesday that it was worried over a sharp rise in the number of new cases in the country.

United will continue to liaise with UEFA who issued a statement saying: ‘UEFA is in contact with the relevant German authorities and we envisage the UEFA Europa League final eight tournament going ahead as planned.’