Michael Owen has thrown his support behind Manchester United’s decision to extend Odion Ighalo’s loan deal and believes the striker has proven his doubters wrong at Old Trafford.
Eyebrows were raised when United wrapped up a temporary agreement with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for Ighalo in January but the 30-year-old seized his opportunity with both hands, racking up four goals and an assist in his opening eight appearances.
The break in football caused by the coronavirus crisis put Ighalo’s future in serious doubt as it meant the Nigerian’s contract came to an end with nine Premier League matches remaining of the season.
But the Red Devils ended the uncertainty last week as Ighalo, a lifelong fan of the club, put pen to paper on a six-month extension.
“I like him, I like him a lot,” former United and England forward Owen said on Premier League Productions.
“I know people turn their nose up at him because he’s come from Chinese football or because he’s on loan, he’s not a sexy £60 million player or whatever.
“But I tell you what, I like him.
“He’s maybe not the full-time No.9 for Manchester United permanently but when you’ve got [Anthony] Martial, when you’ve got Ighalo, when you’ve got [Marcus] Rashford, all of a sudden you’ve got a bit of pace, a bit of pace, a bit of guile.”
Asked whether Ighalo could be United’s answer to Divock Origi, Owen replied: “Yeah, but even more of a role I’d say, Ighalo.
“I think he’s another level up, to be honest.
“I think he would get more game-time for Manchester United than Origi would at Liverpool in the future.
“I like him and I think it’s a good move to extend his contract.”