Odion Ighalo has revealed he took a pay cut in order to complete his dream Deadline Day move from Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United.
Ighalo joined United on loan until the end of the season in a surprise move as cover up front for Marcus Rashford, who is facing an extended spell out after suffering a double stress fracture in his back.
A number of teams, including Tottenham and Inter Milan, showed late interest in signing Ighalo but he was determined to become the first Nigerian to play for United.
“A few other clubs had shown interest,” Ighalo told MUTV. “I said ‘please, just pick United, if it’s going to be possible’.
“At 11pm in Shanghai, my agent called me [to say] that United want to do the deal, so I woke up that night and started looking for a translator to go to the directors’ room and hit his door and all that. ‘My agent wants to speak to you, United are coming for me, you have to make this happen’ and all that you know.
“So, they started talking and discussing. I didn’t sleep throughout that night, because it was going to end at 7am, Shanghai time, and the transfer (window) is going to close there.
“So, from 11pm, there was paperwork, negotiating and all that, for the loan deal and all that, so we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me, but I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here.
“He said you’re going to get a pay cut to go to United. I said I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United. I don’t care how much is the pay cut, I know that, make it happen.”
Ighalo, who moved to the Chinese Super League from Watford in January, 2017, jumped at the chance to return to the Premier League with United, the club he supported as a boy.
“When we were young back in Nigeria we used to watch the Premier League on TV a lot, when the likes of Andy Cole used to play,” Ighalo added.
“People support Man United a lot back there in Nigeria, so I developed that love, because all of my siblings, they are Man United fans.
“I never thought this was going to happen, but dreams do come true, so I’m very happy to be here and this is going to be a big and good challenge for me in my career.”
Ighalo is being put through a personal fitness programme this week in a bid to get up to speed, having arrived into Manchester from China on Sunday.
The 30-year-old forward, who will wear No 25 shirt, is confident he can boost United’s attack, which has struggled without Rashford.
“They have a striker that stays mostly in the middle, because (Anthony) Martial likes to come from the side, even Rashford and all that,” Ighalo said, having called injured Rashford “one of the best, if not the best, player in Europe right now”.
“So, you need someone in the middle that can keep the ball, hold the ball, because I’ve watched so many United games.
“So, they need a physicality there up front to keep the ball, to give and to make some movement, which I believe, if everything goes well, I can add to the team.”