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Manchester United joined by Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Leicester City midfielder – reports

French champions Paris Saint-Germain have joined Manchester United in the race to sign Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, according to reports. The Foxes defensive midfielder is expected to be hot property this summer after another good season in the Premier League playing in Brendan Rodgers side.

It is not the first time that United have been linked to the Nigerian, who is one, if not the, best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. The 23-year-old will have spent two and a half seasons at Leicester when this season, which has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, eventually comes to an end.

During the 2019/20 season, Ndidi has played 29 times for Leicester, playing in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup. The Nigerian has scored two goals and one assist, all in the league, playing a total of 2,224 minutes of football. Leicester were third in the league at the time football was suspended, sitting five point clear of Chelsea.

His dominant displays in midfield for Leicester has left to reports suggesting that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would make a move for the Nigerian at the end of the season. This has also been backed as former United captain, Rio Ferdinand, urged Solskjaer to make a move the Ndidi so the player could add steel to his squad.

However, ESPN has reported that United’s interest in the player will be challenged with PSG now entering the race for the player. The Qatar-backed club who has been known to flaunt the cash is seeking a midfield enforcer this summer, which may give United a battle to win the race for the Nigerian, a player that would help complete this United squad.

The French champions have reported added Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko as potential targets this summer, should they not be able to sign Ndidi. Leicester have the player secured to a contract until the summer of 2024 after the player signed a new contract in the summer of 2018 – not long after he signed for the club.

Leicester signed £17 million Ndidi from Genk with the agreement coming in December 2016 and the player moving to Leicester as soon as the transfer window opened in January 2017. If they are to be interested in selling the player this summer, especially after United paid £80 million for Harry Maguire, a high fee will need to be paid for Ndidi.

It is reported that £45 million might seal the deal for the player this summer but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the value of players may decrease, however, with four years remaining on his contract, Leicester will hold all the cards. Ndidi recently stated his desire to remain at Leicester, which might be a blow for both United and PSG. He said:

“We are doing well and I am enjoying myself here. I still have a contract with Leicester.

“I am learning and trying to improve myself every day and I am doing okay here so no need to go anywhere.”

Leicester have done well this season but will need more reinforcement to take on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City in a bid to win the Premier League for the second time in the clubs history. United, sitting in fifth place at the time the league was suspended have even more to do to gain ground on their rivals. Ndidi’s arrival could help them achieve that.

21-year-old Lille and Nigeria striker in shock £75 million bid; target for Manchester United and Chelsea – reports

Manchester United and Chelsea transfer target Victor Osimhen seems to have had a bid of £75 million tabled with his club Lille from an unnamed club, according to reports. The 21-year-old has been a target for the Premier League giants with French news source, Telefoot reporting the bid. Could this be either club operating under the radar this summer?

Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan have both been linked with the speedy young star but it is suggested that Premier League leaders, Liverpool could be a club in the driving seat for the striker. The Nigerian international’s has played 38 times in all competitions this season, scoring 18 goals and assisting a further six – playing 3,012 minutes of football.

Osimhen started his career at the Ultimate Strikers Academy in Lagos, Nigeria until 2017 and after his performances in the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, Bundesliga side WfL Wolfburg signed the player to a pre-contract which would happen in January 2017. The Nigerian played 16 times for Wolfsburg, failing to score a single goal.

In the summer of 2018, Osimhen had summer trials Belgian clubs Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge, who were the reigning champions but after a bout of Malaria, his physical condition was not the best and neither club made an offer to take him on loan. Instead, he joined RSC Charleroi on loan with the club activating their option to purchase the player.

Osimhen played a total of 36 times for Charleroi, scoring 20 goals and a further four assists in 2,935 minutes of football. In July 2019, Charleroi sold the player to Lille where the player has kept up his current form, despite the coronavirus pandemic stopping world football. It has been confirmed that the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in France has been cancelled.

Chelsea have good relations with Lille after purchasing Eden Hazard from the club in the summer of 2012 and the club, along with United, hold an interest in midfielder Boubakary Soumare. It is also suggested that United made Osimhen a priority this summer following the sale of Romelu Lukaku and the poor performances from Alexis Sanchez.

However, despite all the above, journalist Duncan Castles seems to think that Liverpool are the club leading the way for Osimhen this summer. This could be a blow to both United and Chelsea, if it is Liverpool who have played the bid on the player, however, both clubs could use their financial advantage to place higher bids for the player. Castles said:

“The information I have is that Liverpool have been in contact with Lille about their Nigeria centre-forward Victor Osimhen.

“He’s attracting attention from a lot of clubs and has been fulfilling the potential he showed when he won the Golden Boot at the World Youth Cup a few years ago, scoring 10 goals in that particular tournament in Chile.

“They are open to selling him this summer but only if the market provides them with the right price.

“And they’re very conscious that this may well not be the transfer window to sell a player of his talent. That will factor into their thinking.

“They believe they’ve got a player who is going to turn into one of the top centre-forwards in European football.”

During the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, Osimhen won the Golden Boot and Silver Ball awards. Because of this, he was also named the CAF Youth Player of the Year award in 2015. The 21-year-old has been capped by Nigeria’s senior side nine times now, scoring four goals; one in a friendly against Ukraine, three in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers; one against Benin and two against Lesotho.

Manchester United want Odion Ighalo permanently but an offer on the table from China will not be matched – reports

Manchester United are seeking to sign an experienced striker this summer to help teenager Mason Greenwood’s development at the club after his breakthrough season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo to the club during the January transfer window with the player signing a six-month loan deal at the club.

Ighalo remains United’s number one target, according to reports but the offer of a new contract from his club, which plays in the Chinese Super League would not be something that United would match, especially for a player heading into the twilight years of his career. Ighalo has been a good signing so far, playing a bit-part role under Solskjaer.

Sky Sports presenter Dharmesh Sheth has spoken about the reports of Ighalo’s new contract offer from his club, Shanghai Shenhua which is reportedly around £400,000 per week to remain in China. These are great terms for any player but playing for United is a lot more high profile than playing in China. Sheth was quoted as saying:

“Manchester United have been very impressed and pleased with the progress that Mason Greenwood has made this season.

“But they do remain in the market for a striker, and the one that they want is a player that is already in their squad, Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua of course.

“Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is very impressed with the impact that Ighalo has made this season and sees Ighalo as a man of experience who can help some of the younger players, including Mason Greenwood.

“However, this deal is not as easy as it sounds. That’s because Shanghai Shenhua have offered Ighalo a new contract worth around £400,000-a-week. That’s simply a wage that Manchester United would not pay.”

In eight appearances, playing 318 minutes of football since arriving at United, Ighalo has scored four goals and one assist, which is a good return for a relatively short period of time before the coronavirus pandemic stopped football all around the world. The Nigerian will be seeking to continue on that track when football returns, if he’s able to stay.

The Nigerian forward was signed on loan until the end of the season and with football still likely to continue this season and the fact that European leagues have until the 25 May to tell UEFA whether they want to continue their seasons or cancel the season, there is a chance that the players contract expires before football actually returns, but a decision will be made about that as many clubs will be affected.

Solskjaer will probably want Ighalo to continue the season at United with the club making a decision on making an offer for him. The rumours suggest that the Nigerian took a pay cut to sign for United and seemed happy doing so, even making sure the club officials heard about United’s interest in January and him wanting to get it done.

Signing a new contract in China and being paid £400,000 per week is too good to turn down, especially for a player in his 30s. Money is not everything though. Paying for United for a six month period or so may be good for him but if there is a chance he can become a permanent player, he should really think about that.

United might offer him £100,000 or even £150,000 per week to sign a three or four year contract, which is a good deal, especially if playing for United was a dream that he wanted to achieve, which seems to be the case considering the player’s urgency to get the loan deal done and move back to England. Personally, he’s an ideal player to have in the team.

He may not be the biggest name in world football but he has been somewhat of a revelation when he has played this season, having five goal contributions (four goals and one assist) in the eight matches he has played in. If that continues, it will only be a certainty as to whether United sign him permanently, which would be good for United, Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Odion Ighalo's loan to Manchester United is not a negative, it is a temporary measure which is relatively low risk – why the negativity?

Manchester United have announced the loan signing of Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo for the remainder of the season. This has been greeted with a lot of negativity because it is a sidestep from the rebuilding process. Admittedly it is, but it is also a temporary measure. United needed a striker, this was imperative for the club to achieve. There were links to Edinson Cavani, Willian Jose and Joshua King heading into transfer deadline day also with more attention on Cavani than the other two.

The thing is, it is a low risk signing. United will obviously pay a loan fee to have the player on their books for the remainder of the season and will pay a proportion of the players wages at his parent club, Shanghai Shenhua – other than that, the risk is low. If the player suffers an injury, the player will obviously head back to China, if it is ruled serious enough. Obviously, nobody wants this to happen, serious supporters anyway. Ighalo is a professional player with experience, a much-needed quality.

United lack a straight forward striker this season. Romelu Lukaku did not fit that mould either, in my opinion. He scored a fair few goals for United, but his first touch was poor and he never really had that predatory instinct a striker needs. He just did not fit into United’s squad and didn’t see himself there either, which is why he asked to leave, signing for Inter Milan instead. Not everything is guaranteed to work out in football, if it was guaranteed, it would not work at all.

With the injury to Marcus Rashford, which will keep him on the sidelines for a number of months, United lack attacking options. Anthony Martial is not the striker that people think he is, which is something that has been holding the club back, however, thinking about that, the lack of creativity could have been something that was stopping Martial from scoring, so with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Clube de Portugal during the week, in the coming weeks and months, that might change.

With United needing a striker, many supporters seemed to be affixed to Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain. It was reported that he was available for around €20 million during the January transfer window. He’s a decent striker, or has been, and has a great level of experience. However, he seemingly wanted to sign for Atletico Madrid and that club were the main source of attention for him. It is great that United supporters said he was available, but the fact he’s remained at PSG is telling.

The player will sign for Atletico on the expiry of his contract at the end of the season, leaving for a free. That does not suggest that he would have signed for United, if they came calling. The fee was relatively small but the weekly wage would have been problematic as he would have demanded more than £250,000 and based on the number of goals he has scored for PSG this season; five in 14 appearances, another high earner is not what the club needed.

Erling Haaland was another player linked to the club. He ended up signing for Borussia Dortmund for £18 million. He started his time in Germany well, scoring seven goals in his first three matches which has made supporters suggest it was a mistake not to sign the player. However, the player has a £63 million release clause in his contract which cannot be triggered until 2022 but United do not tend to go for players who want release clauses in their contract – the lack of security there is telling.

Imagine United signing Haaland, him playing well and scoring goal after goal, improving match after match and becoming a fan favourite at the club. Then, two years later, his release clause, which was high at the time he signed, at least three times the fee paid for the player, but in terms of ability and success at scoring, sees his release clause being a relative bargain for a club with £63 million to spend on a striker. That would not be good business.

Obviously, United could start discussion for a new contract, raising the release clause, but there is no guarantee that they would get what they wanted with Mino Raiola, although no the player’s agent, being involved there. It would be like losing Cristiano Ronaldo once again. He sold for £80 million in the summer of 2009 and based on what he achieved, the commercial aspect of his achievements and everything else, United were robbed back then. It is good that the club distanced themselves from what could be seen as another mistake.

There is nothing stopping United from trying to sign Haaland in 2022, if he continues growing as a player and becomes a world class player. Of course, there would be a lot of interest in him and no guarantee. United want to build a team that could stay together for a decade or more, achieving as much as possible. If they become a selling club that signs players with relatively low release clauses, where is the security? A quick fix solution was Ighalo. Not world class, may not be ideal but a quick fix nonetheless.

Ighalo started his career in Nigeria, playing for both Prime and Julius Berger. In 2007, he signed for Norwegian side Lyn, leaving the following year for Udinese. Not making a mark in Italy at the time, Ighalo was loaned to Granada for the 2009/10 season, then Cesena (in Italy) for half the following season, signing for Granada for three-and-a-half seasons on loan. He then moved to Watford, initially on loan in the Championship during the 2014/15 season, where they earned promotion to the Premier League.

The Nigerian then played two seasons in the Premier League for Watford and during that time was a transfer target for Louis van Gaal at one point. Up to and including his time at Watford, Ighalo had scored a total of 68 goals in 223 appearances for seven different clubs. In 2017, the Nigerian signed for Chinese Super League club Changchun Yatai, where he played for two seasons, playing 55 times, scoring 36 goals. In 2019, he signed for Shanghai Shenhua, staying in China, so far playing 19 times, scoring 10 goals.

There is a suggestion in the media that Ighalo will not have a medical at the club before completing his transfer and that he is fully fit to play. The earliest he could play will be against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Monday 17 February 2020, followed by the UEFA Europa League clash away to Club Brugge on Thursday 20 February. His first match at Old Trafford would come against former club, Watford on Sunday 23 February. Speaking about Ighalo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said:

“Odion [Ighalo] is an experienced player. He will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he’s staying with us.

“A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here.”

Ighalo has made no official statement about joining United yet. It is not yet known when he will join up with the squad. However, speaking back in 2016, declaring that he was a boyhood supporter of the Old Trafford club, the Nigerian said:

They were my team growing upI loved watching Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on TV. They were my idols and playing at Old Trafford has always been a dream.

I look forward to seeing what he can do for United. I will reserve my judgement after I have seen him play for the club. Looking back at his time at Watford, he knew how to score a goal or two. Granted, he is older now but strikers do not lose their instinct at a certain age. I am sure he will give his all for the club he supported as a child. Best of luck to him.

copyright: JW