You are here: HomeAfrica2021 02 05Article 1172443

Africa Sports News of Friday, 5 February 2021


Odion Ighalo joins Al Shabab from Shanghai Shenhua

Nigeria striker has Odion Ighalo joined Saudi Arabia Pro League side Al Shabab on a permanent deal from Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua.

The former Super Eagles star was handed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the King Fahd Stadium outfit having passed his medical.

One of the player’s representatives has confirmed the former Granada and Watford man was destined to team up with the six-time Saudi champions having agreed personal terms.

"It's sorted and everything is finalised, it should be announced late on Thursday or Friday," he told BBC Sport Africa.

"Despite interest from other clubs, this is a good move for the player because Al Shabab showed ambition and commitment in their efforts to sign him."

Ighalo initially joined Premier League side Manchester United in a temporary deal at the end of the January transfer window as the Red Devils sought cover in attack for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign, with Marcus Rashford suffering a long-term injury.

His signing raised eyebrows, but the former Watford man scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions - starting just three of those games – and saw his loan extended.

However, he found minutes hard to come by this season as he made just four appearances in all competitions.

In a post on social media, Ighalo expressed his gratitude to those who helped make his stay under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a positive one.

"It’s so hard to see this dream come to an end. But I give God the glory for helping me fulfill this lifelong dream of putting on a Manchester United shirt as a player and represent this great club, it was indeed an honour I will forever cherish and be grateful for," he wrote on Instagram.

"To the manager I say thank you for trusting and believing in me when many did not, to my amazing teammates I will miss you guys, it was always fun and a time I look forward to training and spending time with all of you. And I pray we win the LEAGUE and FA Cup this year.

"To the best fans in the world (the Manchester United fans) we have missed you, but we hear your voices cheering us on from afar, we can’t wait to have you all back on the stands.

"I’m still and would remain a MANCHESTER UNITED FAN forever. Once a Red, always a Red. Thank you Manchester United and God bless."

Despite having plenty of suitors, the 31-year-old chose to continue his professional career with the White Lion where he joins Senegal international Alfred N'Diaye and will wear jersey no. 89.

Ighalo could make his debut for the Saudi side when they host Al Raed in Saturday’s league encounter.

Unbeaten in their last five league games, Carlos Inarejos’ men lead the log having accrued 32 points from 16 games - two points ahead of closest challengers Al Hilal and Al Ahli.