Manchester United have agreed a loan extension with Shanghai Shenhua that ensures they will have the services of forward Odion Ighalo until January 2021.

Former Watford striker Ighalo was a surprise addition at Old Trafford at the end of the mid-season transfer window.

Negotiations to extend his stay were required just to allow him to finish this campaign, with his original spell at United due to finish at the end of May.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have now opted to retain the Nigeria international for the first half of next season too, which is testament to his impressive start.

Stats Perform News have used Opta data to look at how Ighalo has done in the very early stages of his United career.
 

IGHALO MAKES MOST OF LIMITED TIME

Ighalo has had limited time to make an impact, as he did not make his debut until February 17, with the coronavirus pandemic halting the season under a month later.

The 30-year-old made a total of 8 appearances for United across all competitions, 3 of which were starts, accumulating 319 minutes on the pitch.

He has scored 4 goals, right in line with his expected goals total of 4.03, and fired in 17 shots on goal, 11 of which were on target.

Ighalo had a shot conversion rate of 23.5 per cent and he also created 8 chances for his team-mates, which includes his 1 assist.

STATS FAVOURABLE COMPARED TO BIG SIX RIVALS

When compared to the main strikers at the other members of the Premier League's big six – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – Ighalo's stats are favourable.

No player has scored more than his 4 goals across all competitions since February 17, and the only forward who matches him in that tally is in fact team-mate Anthony Martial. 

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored 3, comes the closest.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (19) is the only player to fire in more shots, while Ighalo is the top performer when it comes to attempts on target, with Martial second as he sits three behind.

Martial and Mason Greenwood both have better shot conversion rates of 28.57 per cent, with Aubameyang (42.86 per cent) coming out on top in that category.

But Ighalo's mark is still better than that of Liverpool’s front three - Salah (10.53 per cent), Sadio Mane (13.33 per cent) and Roberto Firmino (7.4 per cent) - as well as City duo Gabriel Jesus (15.38 per cent) and Sergio Aguero (13.33 per cent).

Jesus (10) and Salah (9) created marginally more chances than Ighalo, but no other top striker registered more than half of his tally of 8, with Aguero, Mane, Firmino and Greenwood all on 4 as others fared worse.

He and Mane were the only forwards able to register 1 assist over that time too, with his creative play proving an added bonus for United over his early appearances.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has felt "pity, hatred, indignation" in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest in the United States.

Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, leading to protests and riots in the Minnesota city that have spread to other parts of the country.

Protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement have been staged abroad in recent days, including in London and Manchester in the United Kingdom.

United forward Marcus Rashford issued a statement in support of the movement and team-mate Pogba has now sent a message to his 41million Instagram followers calling for racism "to stop, once and for all".

He wrote: "During the past few days I have thought a lot about how to express my feelings about what happened in Minneapolis. I felt anger, pity, hatred, indignation, pain, sadness.

"Sadness for George and for all black people who suffer from racism EVERY DAY! Whether in football, at work, at school, ANYWHERE!

"This has to stop, once and for all! Not tomorrow or the next day, it has to end TODAY!

"Violent acts of racism can no longer be tolerated. I can't tolerate. I won't tolerate. WE WON'T TOLERATE.

"Racism is ignorance. LOVE is intelligence. STOP the silence. STOP racism."

Pogba's post came hours after Liverpool players took a knee around the Anfield centre-circle and tweeted the picture with the words "Unity is strength".

At the weekend, Jadon Sancho celebrated his first of three Borussia Dortmund goals against Paderborn by revealing a t-shirt saying, "Justice for George Floyd", while Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram got down on one knee after scoring against Union Berlin.

On Monday, former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure said he felt "very proud" to see protestors in Manchester making their voices heard.

"We ALL have a responsibility to challenge racism," he wrote on Twitter. "Racism is a problem for ALL people. WE have to fight it TOGETHER."

Liverpool stars took a knee around the Anfield centre-circle on Monday in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Senior players including Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold tweeted the same photograph of the squad along with the words 'Unity is strength'.

The tweets, which also included the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, were the latest messages of support from footballers amid the civil unrest in the United States in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota last week, sparking significant protests and rioting across many US cities.

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho celebrated the first of three goals against Paderborn on Sunday by revealing a t-shirt with the message 'Justice for George Floyd'.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram earlier went down on one knee after scoring against Union Berlin. The gesture has become a recognised act of protest against racism and police brutality in the US in recent years since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem ahead of a pre-season game in 2016.

On Monday, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford posted on Twitter that "we appear to be more divided than ever", adding: "People are hurting and we need answers. Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter."

Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure said he felt "very proud" to see demonstrations in Manchester showing solidarity with protestors in the US.

"We ALL have a responsibility to challenge racism," he wrote on Twitter. "Racism is a problem for ALL people. WE have to fight it TOGETHER."

Philippe Coutinho is aiming to return to the Premier League, according to his agent Kia Joorabchian.

Coutinho was a star at Liverpool, yet failed to establish himself at Barcelona following a €145million move in January 2018.

The Brazil playmaker subsequently joined Bayern Munich on loan in August 2019 and has scored eight goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances.

With Coutinho out injured, it does not seem likely Bayern will be extending his stay after electing not to take up a €120m purchase option, with a host of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, Arsenal and former side Liverpool, reportedly interested.

Joorabchian, who also represents Coutinho's compatriots David Luiz and Willian, has now confirmed the 27-year-old has set a return to England in his sights.

"He has a desire to come back to the Premier League at some point," Joorabchian told Sky Sports.

"It may not happen this year, it may happen this year but we don't know. We really have not discussed anything for now."

However, Joorabchian insisted talks of Barca putting a £70million (€78m) price tag on Coutinho, or asking for a £9m (€10m) loan fee, are wide of the mark.

"I've never heard those figures, we've never discussed numbers, none of those figures have ever been discussed," he added.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez sent social media into overdrive with a cryptic tweet on Sunday.

Spain international Saul posted a graphic with the words: "New club. I'll announce it [in] three days."

Followers immediately thought an impending transfer was coming, but the 25-year-old has another six years left to run on a contract that includes a reported €150million release clause.

While reports in the Spanish media insist the tweet has nothing to do with Saul's future, it echoed Antoine Griezmann famously announcing his Atletico future in a documentary entitled 'La Decision' in 2018. Griezmann confirmed he would be remaining at the club, only to leave for Barcelona a year later.

It has also been claimed Saul is set to announce he has bought part of a club or even invested in an esports team.

So even though it is highly unlikely Saul will reveal he is leaving the Wanda Metropolitano just a week before LaLiga resumes following its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at who could be in the market for one of the world's best midfielders.

 

Manchester United

United have long been credited with an interest in the Atleti star, but they shelled out an initial £46.5m (€55m) on Bruno Fernandes in January. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Fernandes can form a formidable midfield partnership with Paul Pogba, but the Frenchman's future at Old Trafford remains a constant source speculation.

Manchester City

The Red Devils would face competition from local rivals City, though. Fernandinho is not getting any younger and spent much of the 2019-20 campaign at centre-back through necessity, and Pep Guardiola will be looking for a long-term successor who can anchor the club's midfield for the coming years.

Paris Saint-Germain

Any time an elite player is available, PSG will always be linked. The Ligue 1 champions have just completed the signing of Mauro Icardi for a reported €50m and having previously managed to get a UEFA investigation into their finances shut down, they will not be shy in splashing out further to improve their chances of getting their hands of the Champions League trophy.

Barcelona

With Ivan Rakitic expected to be on his way out, Barca's hunt for a new midfielder has reportedly had them looking in the direction of Juventus' Miralem Pjanic, though Arthur refused to be included as part of the deal. The Blaugrana have never been afraid to shell out huge amounts of money and LaLiga's defending champions would no doubt be in the race if Saul was available.

Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer has signed a new deal at Bayern and David Alaba is set to follow soon, but Thiago Alcantara has reportedly hesitated over extending a contract that is set to expire at the end of next season. Hansi Flick could therefore be in the market for an elite midfielder and Saul would fit the bill. However, Bayern have long maintained they will not spend over €100m on a player.

Other options

If Pjanic is on his way to Barca, and with Adrien Rabiot's future at Juve shrouded in doubt, the Serie A champions would surely see Saul as an ideal candidate to slot into their midfield.

Maurizio Sarri coached Jorginho at Napoli and Chelsea, though, and the Italy international is said to be a target for the Bianconeri. Should he leave Stamford Bridge, the Blues could see Saul as a great replacement.

Mauricio Pochettino believes no team has had a bigger impact upon English football than the Southampton side he coached for a season and a half from January 2013.

Pochettino remains one of the most highly regarded tacticians in the game after leaving Tottenham last November.

Exactly a year ago, his Spurs team lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Jurgen Klopp's men have gone on to dominate the 2019-20 Premier League season and Pochettino suggested the high-octane takes on football put forward by the German and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City were proved to be viable in the English game by his initial excursion at St Mary's.

"Football in England changed with that Southampton team of 2013-14, there is no other team that had as big an impact in changing the mindset,” Pochettino told Guillem Balague's Talking Football show on LaLiga TV.

“We arrived at a club with a president like Nicola Cortese who gave us what we needed to create something unique in English football. Our ability to adapt to a completely different environment was incredible.

"We found a group of players who wanted to learn from the experiences we brought from Spanish football, and with the quality to play a different style of football to that which everyone in English football was used to.

"Young players started to appear, and people started to trust in young players, also in the English national team."

Victories over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea were high points as Pochettino eased Southampton away from relegation trouble in 2012-13, before steering them to an eighth-place finish the following season.

Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez made their breakthroughs with England, while fellow Three Lions internationals Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne would go on to join Liverpool along with Dejan Lovren.

Southampton took their astute punt on Pochettino after he began his coaching career in impressive fashion at Espanyol, where he believes he had a similarly transformative effect.

"At Espanyol, we were the first coaching staff who started to teach exercises to bring the ball out from the back," he said.

"The facts are there. Just watch any game from around 2010 and 2011, the ball is played out from the goal. When previously it was always hit long.

"We started with that, and many people are a bit surprised. Everyone talks of Barcelona, Madrid, Milan.

"No, no, it was Espanyol, with Ernesto Galan, Jordi Amat, Raul Rodriguez, David Lopez, Didac Vila, Victor Ruiz, Raul Baena, Juan Forlin, Javi Marquez.

"Many of those players grew up with a style of play and philosophy different from modern football played today."

Arsenal defender David Luiz has "no desire" to leave the club, according to his agent Kia Joorabchian.

Uncertainty has surrounded the former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain player's future since the Gunners did not pick up their option to extend his contract for a second year.

But Luiz has regularly praised Mikel Arteta since the Spaniard replaced compatriot Unai Emery as Arsenal boss and has started 25 of the team's 28 Premier League matches this season.

Joorabchian insists his client has no plans to move and expects a deal to be worked out that will see the 33-year-old remain at Arsenal in the 2020-21 campaign.

"He is very happy at Arsenal," Joorabchian said to Sky Sports. 

"He has an extremely good relationship with both the coach and the sporting director. He has good relationships all throughout the club, right up to the owner. He respects everybody.

"Arsenal had an option, which expired. We also had a pandemic [coronavirus]. So the option expired in the middle of the pandemic. 

"We are all very aware of that situation and we are all trying, very slowly, to get back to this 'new normal'.

"These contract situations, these renewals - if he stays or if he goes - will all sort themselves out when we get back to some kind of 'new normal'.

"David will sit down with Arsenal before the season begins, have his conversations and they will both decide if he will stay or not. That will come before the season starts. 

"The chances are very high [of Luiz being at Arsenal next season]. There is no desire to leave."

Talk over a return to another of his former clubs, Benfica, intensified after a recent interview when the Brazilian discussed the prospect of moving there.

Joorabchian added: "What he said was, 'if the opportunity arose in the future - before I retire - I could go back to Benfica and finish my career where I started it'. 

"But he never mentioned about wanting to go back to Benfica now."

Manchester United have struck a deal to extend Odion Ighalo's loan move from Shanghai Shenhua until January 2021.

Ighalo joined United in January, going on to score four goals in eight appearances in all competitions prior to the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Nigeria international had only been due to stay until May 31, yet United have now agreed to keep him at Old Trafford until January 31 next year.

Former Watford striker Ighalo – who supported United as a boy – has not yet started in the Premier League, but he has netted in each of his starts in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Speaking on MUTV last week, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was hopeful of securing a deal for the 30-year-old.

"The loan deal went until the end of May now, so obviously he's supposed to be going back," Solskjaer said.

"We're in dialogue. They've been great towards us, his club, and allowed him to play for his dream club.

"It's been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, hopefully with a trophy for us."

The Premier League season is due to restart on June 17, with teams having returned to contact training last week.

 

Marcus Rashford has spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, as civil unrest continues in the United States following the death of George Floyd.

Mr Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota last week, sparking large scale protests and subsequent riots in many cities across the U.S.

On Sunday, Rashford's England team-mate Jadon Sancho celebrated the first of his three goals in Borussia Dortmund's 6-0 win over Paderborn by revealing a t-shirt with the message "Justice for George Floyd".

Now Manchester United star Rashford has used his Twitter account to show his backing for the Black Lives Matter campaign.

"I know you guys haven't heard from me in a few days," Rashford wrote.

"I've been trying to process what is going on in the world. At a time where I've been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to be more divided than ever.

"People are hurting and we need answers. Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter."

Sancho and Rashford are not the only players to have drawn attention to the ongoing situation, with Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram having taken a knee after scoring against Union Berlin on Sunday.

Gladbach coach Marco Rose lauded the 22-year-old for his action, saying Thuram had "set an example against racism."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer has underlined his club's interest in Leroy Sane – stating every team in the world would like to have the Manchester City winger.

Germany international Sane has long been touted as a target for Bayern, with a move thought to be close last August before the 24-year-old suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage during City's Community Shield clash with Liverpool.

Sane has not played competitively since but Bayern's desire to bring the former Schalke man back to the Bundesliga does not appear to have waned.

"Leroy Sane is a good player that every team would like to have," Hainer told BR.

"It has been known for a year now that we have been interested. He is still under contract with Man City. We have to see how things develop."

Hainer's predecessor Uli Hoeness expressed hope that the deal can be done last weekend and there has been near constant noise from various prominent Bayern figures over Sane's future.

Not all of those have been positive, however, with former full-back Willy Sagnol expressing unspecified doubts over the character of a player who was surprisingly omitted from Germany's 2018 World Cup squad.

"Leroy Sane is certainly an interesting personality, above all because of his performance on the pitch," Hainer added.

"He is also a marketable player, especially for the young demographic."

One player who is certain to arrive at the Allianz Arena for next season is Alexander Nubel, with the goalkeeper's switch from Schalke already sealed.

Nubel will bring fresh competition for long-standing number one Manuel Neuer, who penned a contract extension until 2023 last month.

Former Bayern keeper and current board member Oliver Kahn insists this does not mean a loan move is in the offing for the 23-year-old.

"Nobody thinks about a loan here, we are all happy that Alex comes to us," he told Sky90. "There is nothing better than having two excellent goalkeepers.

"It was a sensible decision at the time, to get Nubel free of charge. It is a path he is taking - to accept the situation with Manuel Neuer and to line up behind Manuel Neuer, in his slipstream.

"[Nubel is to] gradually become number one."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich… take your pick.

Kai Havertz is not short of options following his stunning form for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

As clubs queue up to sign Havertz, a Premier League giant is reportedly leading the race.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FAVOURITES FOR HAVERTZ

Manchester United are favourites to sign in-demand Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, according to The Sun.

Havertz has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid after his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen.

United are ready to swoop for Havertz, as well as Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport says Paul Pogba is open to swapping United for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga giants Madrid, PSG have emerged as a possible destination for the disgruntled Frenchman.

Manchester City are determined to sign Juve centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, but Calciomercato claims the Serie A holders are unwilling to sell the key defender.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are positive about signing Lautaro Martinez from Inter following Mauro Icardi's move to PSG. Inter recouped at least €50million after Icardi's loan deal at PSG became permanent. While Barca are aware it will be difficult to prise Martinez to Camp Nou, the LaLiga champions view Icardi's transfer positively.

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho, according to the Daily Express. Coutinho has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern but the German giants opted not to exercise their transfer option. Now, Chelsea are prepared to bring the former Liverpool star back to the Premier League on loan. Tottenham have also been linked.

- Juve's Douglas Costa is wanted by Atletico Madrid. That is according to Calciomercato, which claims Atletico want to bring in the Brazilian attacker in exchange for either Thomas Partey or Stefan Savic. Douglas Costa has been linked to United, while Arsenal are eyeing Partey.

Milan will meet with potential new head coach Ralf Rangnick, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. The Rossoneri continue to be linked to Rangnick while Stefano Pioli remains in charge.

- La Repubblica claims Juve have entered the race for Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. The 20-year-old has been linked to the likes of Napoli, Lazio, Fiorentina, United, Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG and RB Leipzig.

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini insisted Everton forward Moise Kean was "completely different" to Mario Balotelli.

Kean left the Serie A champions for Everton last year, with the Premier League side paying £25million (€27.5m) for the Italy forward.

The 20-year-old had scored just once in 26 appearances for Everton before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was dropped in November reportedly for a disciplinary breach.

Kean was also condemned by Everton in April after an apparent breach of lockdown rules.

Having previously criticised Brescia forward Balotelli, Chiellini said Kean was nothing like the former Inter and Manchester City man.

"Balotelli only has the shot. There are those who now compare him with Moise Kean, a boy who appears rebellious and unmanageable, but is completely different from Mario," Chiellini wrote in Io, Giorgio.

"Of course, in Juventus youth he was punished many times, but when he played in the first team he always showed himself very respectful towards the group.

"Sometimes he does not hear the alarm and arrives late, but they are behaviours that can be changed without difficulty."

Kean came through the youth system at Juventus, where he scored eight goals in 21 games before his departure.

Jadon Sancho broke an English and a Bundesliga record on Sunday, as the Borussia Dortmund winger scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Paderborn.

Sancho, who revealed a "justice for George Floyd" t-shirt after scoring his first goal in the 57th minute, put Dortmund 2-0 up following Thorgan Hazard's opener.

It took the youngster onto 15 goals for the season, making him the first English player to register at least 15 goals and assists in a single season in one of Europe's top five leagues since the 1994-95 Premier League campaign, when Matt Le Tissier did so for Southampton.

The winger also became the first player to achieve the feat in a Bundesliga campaign, since the start of detailed data collecting in 2004-05.

Sancho was not done there, however, and drilled in a second in the 74th minute before rounding off the win - and his hat-trick - in stoppage time.

Dortmund's victory moves them onto 60 points, four clear of Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, though seven adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Jurgen Klopp has revealed just how much runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool are enjoying their moment in the sun.

After 30 years of frustration, close calls and intermittent spells of being barely competitive, the six-time European champions are on the verge of winning another English league title.

The coronavirus crisis has caused football in England to be suspended for three months, but the top flight is on course to resume on June 17.

Liverpool's 25-point lead over second-placed Manchester City should make it a formality that they seal a 19th domestic championship, with a maximum of two more wins required.

The glorious English weather in recent weeks has also made manager Klopp's task all the more straightforward at the Melwood training ground.

And the German has been particularly impressed by the attitude of his squad after they were fully reunited in training on Thursday, with contact now allowed between players.

He said of the squad being back together: "It's absolutely brilliant, a massive difference. The weather is just outstanding, it means all the things we have to do outside – we don't have changing rooms here, that makes it all slightly difficult – but with the weather it's absolutely no problem, it’s rather nice to do it this way.

"So, we enjoy it a lot. We could work on all the things we wanted to work on."

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Klopp said: "The first week was already really good with the small groups, I enjoyed that as well, because it was just important to get on track again, to get used to the pitch and ball and boots and all that stuff. And now we work on tactical things, that works really well.

"The boys are still the same really good bunch of boys – and that helps a lot. We are in a good moment, we enjoy it.

"Hopefully we can make progress in the next two or three weeks, there are a lot of things that need to be organised still, obviously.

"We need to get hopefully a couple of [bits of] information but we take it like it is and use each second we are together."

Premier League clubs should brace for the transfer market to "dramatically change" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

That is the warning from former Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton, who believes the financial impact of COVID-19 on football will be significant.

Hughton said even the biggest clubs will feel the pinch, with mega-money deals likely to become few and far between for the foreseeable future.

However, the ex-Newcastle United manager is confident there will be a return to normality at some point down the line.

Asked what affect the global health crisis and its knock-on financial ramifications would have on the transfer market, Hughton told Stats Perform News: "I think what we regards to higher transfers – 40, 50, 60million pound transfers – I think it will dramatically change for a period of time.

"What we always have to remember is that the competitiveness of our game, the investment of our game, is that in some stage, as with society, things will get back to the norm.

"The norm in our game is that there are a group of clubs that financially have a lot of clout and are prepared, because of the success they want, to pay the big money for players.

"At some stage, yes we will get back to that, as with normality in life. But I do see that being a good while away.

"I think it will have a big financial affect on the game, even the bigger clubs, and it will take some time to recover. But at some stage it will recover and get back to the norm.

"Certainly in this period of time and the big transfers that we're used to seeing – I don't see them happening."

The Premier League is set to resume on June 17, with runaway leaders Liverpool closing in on a first top-flight title in 30 years.

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