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'He's not a Man United number 9' | Ighalo can step up where Martial fails

As Erling Haaland began life in the Bundesliga with seven goals in three games, Manchester United...

'He's not a Man United number...

'He's not a Man United number 9' | Ighalo can step up where Martial fails

As Erling Haaland began life in the Bundesliga with seven goals in three games, Manchester United – the club that did their utmost to lure him to the Premier League – resorted to signing Odion Ighalo in the hopes of ending their goal shortage.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had flown to Salzburg in December to meet his top target Haaland, but the 19-year-old opted for the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund, where his record is a goal less than every 20 minutes so far.

With a failed move for Josh King, star striker Marcus Rashford injured and Anthony Martial inconsistent, Solskjaer subsequently turned to 30-year-old Nigerian international Ighalo.

While the move raised eyebrows considering the Nigerian scored just 10 goals in 19 games in Chinese football last year, football writer Daniel Harris – speaking on Tuesday's OTB AM – believes the striker can make up for the shortcomings of Martial.

"United could use that physical presence up front; Martial does not hold up the ball well, he doesn't move around very much and he had an unbelievable nightmare against Wolves.

"His touch was off, he didn't move much, he wasn't making the runs of a centre-forward."


While Aaron Wan-Bissaka's crosses from wide have failed to find a target in recent games, Harris argued the inclusion of Ighalo can appease that problem.

"He'd be a lot more effective going forward if he had a striker who wants to attack the near post and get into the six-yard box for crosses – Martial doesn't really want to do that."

Now 24-years-old, Martial, Harris says, may never reach the potential he threatened to when he first joined United from Monaco in 2015.

"It's at the point for him, he's not going to be a number 9 at Manchester United – at least a first choice one. I'm glad they have given him time. Personally, I'd have had enough at the end of last season.

"I can see why they've given him time because he's so much talent but he doesn't appear to have the mentality – not just in terms of effort but in terms of thinking about his game carefully, how to get the most out of his talent.

"He doesn't seem to have it in him to become the player that his talent should have allowed him to become. Ighalo is not as talented a player as Martial or anything close to it but if you're a creative player and you're trying to supply a centre-forward, it helps if you know where that centre-forward is going to be.

"If he's prepared and trying to score from three yards and scruffy goals and headers from the near post then it's possible he could make United a better team even if he's not a particularly good player or not a player that a club like United should have.

"He'll be there to hold the ball up to facilitate goals for Rashford and score the kind of goals that Martial doesn't have the instinct or inclination to get."

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Anthony Martial Daniel Harris Manchester United Odion Ighalo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer