Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is excited about Friday’s deadline-day transfer of Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United, adding the national team’ door is open to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) highest goal scorer.
Ighalo retired from International football days after he helped Nigeria win the Bronze medal following his solitary strike against Tunisia in the Third Place Match but 66-year-old German super Eagles’ said the striker would be most welcomed if he call off his self-imposed exit.
“I am very happy about the transfer of Odion Ighalo to this great club like Manchester United,” the former Bayern Munich defender exclusively told NationSport last night. “ It is a dream for him and he can realise his dream with this team; but he has to fight to play with this team (Manchester United).”
Ighalo’s departure from the Super Eagles has seen the emergence of the likes of Lille forward Victor Osimhen in the team’s striking position but Rohr said the younger elements in the Super Eagles will benefit even more should the former Watford striker returns to the fold.
“If he (Ighalo) wants to come back to the team (Super Eagles) , the door is open because his experience could really help the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Samuel Kalu and other young strikers to progress.
“ Now the travelling (from China) will be less for him but he has to first find his rhythm and positioning to play for Manchester United and the changing of mind (to play for the Super Eagles) must come from .
“ All the time , we are in touch. He is such an important player as the best goal scorer at AFCON 2019.
“ He is difficult to replace even if Osimhen is doing so well.
“ All is possible even for Ighalo and Osimhen to play together ; but we would wait and we would see,” added the vastly experienced Rohr who had previously managed the national teams of Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso en route to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Quique Sanchez Flores who coached Ighalo both at Watford and Shanghai Shenhua, has warned that that the striker would need at least one month to be sharp for Man United.
“Mainly, the problem is how they train in China. It is not the same as in England,” the Spaniard said in an interview with Daily Mirror. “Is he really ready for first-team matches in the Premier League because the physical difference is so big?
“He probably needs one month to recover the full rhythm. The good thing is he knows his body well, works hard on injury prevention and he is always working after training.”
“I should say, also, that I felt in China, he gave exactly the same effort and quality as he gave me four years ago. We had the feeling in China that he could recover a high level with any team in Europe.”
Ighalo is expected to make his Manchester United debut in a high profile EPL match immediately after the Winter’s break against Chelsea on February 17.