Odion Ighalo should “fight for a permanent contract” at Manchester United after seeing his loan deal extended, according to Dimitar Berbatov.
Ighalo was due to return to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua at the end of May after a five-month stint at Old Trafford, but United was reluctant to lose a man who proved to be a surprise hit among supporters before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Red Devils reached an agreement with the Chinese Super League outfit on Monday that will allow the 30-year-old to remain in Manchester through to the end of January 2021.
Ighalo, whose only previous Premier League experience came at Watford between 2015 and 2017, scored four goals in his first three starts for United after signing for the club on deadline day.
He proved himself as a more than capable backup striker in the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford and will compete alongside the England international, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood for a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line up when the Premier League resumes on June 17.
Berbatov has been impressed by the impact Ighalo has had at the Theatre of Dreams in such a short period of time, and thinks he should build on a bright start to life in Manchester by trying to convince United to sign him outright.
“It is great news, for club and player, that United have extended the loan of Odion Ighalo,” the former United centre-forward told Betfair.
“The way he linked with the other players, his interaction with the team and everything he did was top quality for the time he was given to play.
“Now, Ighalo has a massive challenge ahead of him to prove that it was the right decision from the club.
“Now that he’s staying until 31 January 2021, why not go out there and show the club why he should stay for even longer? Why not fight for a permanent contract?
“He’s a great boost for the team and it puts United in a strong position.”
Berbatov added on the impending resumption of top-flight English football after a three-month hiatus: “It’s great news that the Premier League is going to return.
“It is going to happen behind closed doors, for obvious reasons, and I am curious to see how physically and mentally prepared the teams are.
“It will be interesting to see how long it will take for games to reach a similar level of quality, speed and intensity to how they were before the stoppage.
“But overall this is a great step in the right direction.”
Reported by: Vincent Paul