Better than Sanchez: 35-cap man quickly becoming a Woodward masterclass at Man United – opinion

Growing up in Edo, Nigeria, Odion Ighalo had a dream. It was a simple one too – to play football for Manchester United.

Remarkably, he has achieved that ambition. Coming via Norway, Italy, Spain, China and Watford, it’s not your usual career path but Ighalo is now very much part of the furniture at Carrington.

He has settled into life at Old Trafford with aplomb, even if at first glance it looked like a peculiar signing.

United are renowned for making hefty expensive acquisitions. The very fact they broke the record paid for a defender to land Harry Maguire is fine evidence of that. The £89m addition of Paul Pogba is another example.

Yet, here was Ighalo, arriving for a loan fee of just £3m after plying his trade in the Chinese Super League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men needed attacking cover for Marcus Rashford but this was certainly an unorthodox way of going about it from Ed Woodward.

However, despite bucking a trend, it’s already beginning to become somewhat of a masterclass from United’s executive vice-chairman.

That’s if you compare it to one of the biggest earners still on the books of Manchester United – Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean is a classy player on his day, registering 24 Premier League goals for Arsenal in one season but his £35m move from the Gunners has been nothing short of a disaster. On £350k a week, he’s scored just five times in 45 outings and is now out on loan at Inter Milan. Once again, he’s flopped.

Sanchez has scored just once in Italy all season and is now due back in England in the summer. However, would United not benefit from a permanent deal for Ighalo more? It’s hard to tell, but the answer should be yes.

Although they possess no option to sign the Nigerian at the end of his loan, the financial power and the lure of United would surely be enough to bring him back.

If you compare the two, there are some stark differences. For a start, Ighalo is on £250k less than Alexis and has already started producing at a better rate.

Comparison between Alexis and Ighalo - Better than Sanchez: 35-cap man quickly becoming a Woodward masterclass at Man United – opinion

Only on temporary terms, the 35-capped striker has found the back of the net on just two fewer occasions despite only being there for a matter of weeks. The fact he’s scored a goal every 77 minutes is damning compared to Sanchez.

The Chile international has been extremely poor in front of goal, taking 556 minutes at a time to beat the goalkeeper. Considering his wage and price tag, it’s seriously concerning.

Ighalo’s signing, however, has proven to Woodward that sometimes you don’t need to spend a considerable sum to find a good player. His wage is still colossal but the decision to bring him in has proven to be a piece of genius compared to previous failings in Manchester.

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Whether this causes a major policy shift at United remains to be seen, but it’s surely worth evaluating by the club’s chief operators.

Meanwhile, United’s pursuit of a £34m-rated star is a THROWBACK to the SAF era…

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