Manchester United’s hopes of signing Odion Ighalo have been given a lift after his parent club Shanghai Shenhua lined up his replacement.
The Independent claim reports in China suggest they are closing in on Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins.
Martins, 35, previously played for Shenhua from 2016 until the end of the 2018 season, but Titan Sports have reported he arrived in China last week to re-join the club.
China’s domestic league, like the majority worldwide is currently suspended, with a return unlikely until May at the earliest.
Ighalo, who moved to United on loan from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on deadline day in January, has hit the ground running with four goals in eight appearances.
Indeed, the Nigerian’s strikes helped the Red Devils progress in the Europa League and FA Cup before the season was brought to a halt earlier this month.
Previous reports have suggested that Ighalo was ‘seriously flattered’ by an offer of more than £400,000 per week from Shanghai.
However, according to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira – via his Twitter account – United are trying just as hard to keep the striker at Old Trafford. Manchester United are preparing a three-year deal worth €6million (£5.2million) per year in wages for the 30-year-old forward.
Ighalo‘s deal reportedly ends on May 31 – a month before the expiry date of standard loan spells – meaning United could earmark the Nigerian’s signing as a priority in the coming weeks.
Ighalo’s goals have been influential in United tallying an unbeaten run stretching 11 matches, with fellow January arrival Bruno Fernandes also playing a crucial role.
And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted he wants the forward to stay.
“It’s a loan, but when you’re in the door and if you impress it gives you a chance,” Solskjaer said last month. “That doesn’t just go for Odion, but since you asked, yes, of course his incentive is to play as well as he can.#“And it’s up to us to make sure that he’d want to stay if we wanted him. I think he’s probably pinching himself at times, because he’s now at his favourite club at the age of 30.
“Hopefully he’ll prove to you what I think he will. He’s a proven goalscorer, so he’ll do all right. That’s exactly the same for everyone who signs if it’s permanent or it’s a loan.
“If you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, then of course there’s a chance that we’ll look at extending things.”