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‘Ighalo? Man Utd had nine months to find a striker!’ – Neville concerned by Red Devils’ recruitment

17:53 GMT 01/02/2020
Odion Ighalo Manchester United logo
The former Red Devils star saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer land a much-needed frontman at the last minute, but it was not the marquee signing longed for

Manchester United cannot be “let off the hook” for landing Odion Ighalo on deadline day, says Gary Neville, with the Red Devils having had nine months to find a suitable replacement for Romelu Lukaku.

The Red Devils saw a Belgium international striker head through the exits at Old Trafford in the summer of 2019.

As a proven goalscorer departed for Serie A giants Inter, United were left with a decision to make on what approach to take in their recruitment.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to show faith in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but has seen both of his favoured options in the final third endure injury issues this season.

That left United scratching around for another frontman in January, with links emerging to the likes of Erling Haaland, Edinson Cavani and a host of Premier League stars.

In the end, former Watford forward Ighalo was the only option the Red Devils were able to get over the line, as he was brought back to English football from CSL side Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on a short-term loan.

Neville is pleased to have seen another goal-getter acquired by United, but says there is no excuse for them having missed out on the marquee addition that supporters were crying out for.

The Red Devils legend told Sky Sports: “They just needed another body in that area. Rashford is going to be out for another couple of months.

“I can’t let the club off the hook though, unfortunately. The fact that Lukaku revealed that he said he was going to leave last February/March, it’s nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position for the club to sign a striker for the long-term.

“They have ended up desperately doing one on transfer deadline day.

“The boy might do very well, he might settle and score goals and do a job. But the fact that the club are in that position, knowing that [Alexis] Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United at this moment in time are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly.”

Ighalo did not arrive in time to make his debut in a Premier League meeting with Wolves and, with a winter break to take into account, will now have to wait until a February 17 trip to Chelsea before coming into contention for his United bow.