Former Arsenal defender Paul Merson is confident Odion Ighalo will accept a permanent offer to remain at Manchester United after his loan spell.
The 30-year-old has been impressive for the Red Devils since his temporary signing from Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua in January.
Ighalo has returned four goals in three starts for Manchester United so far, and the ex-Premier League star believes he has been ‘outstanding’ in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team despite his limited playing time.
“When Odion Ighalo arrived at Manchester United in January, I didn’t really want to get involved in any conversations about him because, either way, there was a danger of being made to look silly,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“If you said he was going to be awful he could embarrass you badly by performing like he did during that brilliant year he had with Watford or if you said he was going to be a good signing, he could still be the player who put in some awful showings just before he left Watford.
“I didn’t want to get involved in that because it was a no-win situation.
“However, what I can say now is that he’s been absolutely outstanding since he arrived at Old Trafford.
“I know he hasn’t played a lot of football but when he’s come off the bench and when he has got some game time, he’s looked class.
“It’s a hard decision Manchester United have to make regarding his future because if you give him a contract, can he perform again then next season?”
Ighalo’s loan at Manchester United is expected to end on May 31 with the club holding the option to make the deal permanent.
The Nigeria international has reportedly been offered a deal worth £400-a-week by his parent club in China but Merson does not see him turning down United’s contract if given one.
“When you go to a club on loan you’ve got that hunger of wanting to secure a permanent move, prove everybody inside the club right and everybody outside the club wrong. All of a sudden, you give someone a contract and they think they’ve done all the hard work,” he continued.
“You’ve only got to look at his time at Watford. He looked a world-beater but then next minute he couldn’t score a goal for toffee. But if you are going on the form he’s showed since coming to the club in January it’s going to be hard to get rid of him.
“And don’t worry about the new mega-money offers in China.
“He’s said all the right things since joining Manchester United. He’s turned around enough times and said he’s dreamed of playing for United so if they do offer him a permanent deal, I can’t see him turning it down.
“Everything’s gone right for him so far and if United do offer him a chance to stay, I’d be shocked if he walked away.”