Odion Ighalo believes that Manchester United need two or three top signings if they are to seriously challenge for the Premier League title next season.
The Nigerian forward was in Malta in the last few weeks just before he headed to Saudi Arabia to join his team-mates at Al Shabab for pre-season training.
Ighalo has played in several continents in the last 20 years where he had spells in Norway, Italy, China and Spain among others.
However, the towering forward is fondly remembered for his time in England first with Watford and most recently with Premier League giants Manchester United.
“I am very happy that I played in six or seven different countries with ten different clubs,” Ighalo told The Sunday Times of Malta.
“I thank God every day for everything I have achieved in a career that spanned over 16 years.
“Obviously during this time not everything was rosy, but I am happy for what I have achieved, and I look forward to win more in the coming years.”
Ighalo’s best spell as forward came when in 2014 he moved to England to join Watford who at that time were in playing in England’s second-tier.
“When I arrived in England, I moved to Watford who at the time were playing in the Championship,” Ighalo said.
“I wanted to play in the Championship in my first season so I could adapt my game to English football. It was not easy at the start. In fact, in my first season I made 12 appearances and scored just one goal.
“I was not happy, and I worked even harder and I suddenly picked up my form in my second campaign when I scored 20 goals and helped the team to win promotion. The next year in the Premier League I also had a great year netting 16 goals.
“I cherish my time playing in the Premier League who for me is the best league in the world. I still love the fans at Watford, and if I have the opportunity I would go back to watch Watford play.”
For Ighalo, however, his best time in England was with the club he supported since he was a boy when he joined Manchester United in January 2020.
The Nigerian was signed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as striker cover following an injury to key forward Marcus Rashford.
“I am a Manchester United fan,” the Nigerian said.
“I grew up supporting them and watch them play. When the opportunity came, I didn’t think twice to go there and for me to play for my dream club is something I wanted to achieve.
“Not everyone who dreams to play for the club that he loves comes to reality. But I fulfilled my dream to play at Old Trafford and score goals there.
“Every day I wake up and when I remember that I am a former Man. United player I am grateful to God for this.”
Asked to describe his time at Manchester United, Ighalo heaped praise on the work being carried out by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“When I joined Manchester United there was a big improvement in terms of results,” Ighalo said.
“We went unbeaten almost throughout the season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done a tremendous job. He re-injected a winning mentality in the team and that is mirrored in seeing the team scoring at the death to win matches.
“Solskjaer brought back confidence in the team and that is the first step towards starting winning trophies.”
Last season, Manchester United finished as runners-up in the Premier League to their neighbouring rivals Manchester City and lost the Europa League final to Villarreal to remain without a trophy for four years.
Asked what Manchester United need to finally end their trophy drought, Ighalo says that United need to bring in two or three players to bridge the gap with City.
“I think Manchester United are already in a good place but they need to strengthen their squad,” Ighalo said.
“One has to see comes in this summer and who leaves. Jadon Sancho is set to join in and it’s a step in the right direction. But I still feel that they need a couple of more players in.
“Manchester City is paying big money to bring world-class players and United need to do that by bringing in two or three players if they are going to win trophies again.”
Away from the football pitch, Ighalo is also active in his home country with his charity work. He has built an orphanage in Lagos for less privileged kids.
“I was born very poor,” he said.
“When I was a child I struggled to eat three times every day and when I started to play football I didn’t have the shoes to play.
“When I grew up I saw many kids in the streets who had nothing and I told myself, when I start making money from football I want to help these kids. I built an orphanage in Lagos where I have 30 kids. I employed workers, doctors and all that is needed to ensure these children are well looked after.
“When I go back to Nigeria I go to see them. It’s not easy for me putting my money for this as I have no support from the government. But I am happy to give something back and to try and give these kids a decent life.”
Ighalo’s work is similar to what his former United team-mate Marcus Rashford is doing in Manchester. In fact, Rashford has been doing a lot of charity work to fight hunger among children in the UK.
“Marcus is a good boy with a big heart,” Ighalo said.
“What he has done for the children in the UK is remarkable but I am not surprised as he is a humble boy and works really hard.
“Sometimes if you don’t experience sadness and tough life you don’t know what it means. To give something back is definitely the best feeling in the world.”