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Ighalo: Ex-Manchester United star wins Al Shabab Player of the Month award

10:26 BST 03/06/2021
Odion Ighalo
The former Nigeria international has been rewarded for his impressive displays for the White Lion in the Saudi Arabian elite division

Odion Ighalo has been announced as the Al Shabab Player of the Month for May.

The former Watford and Changchun Yatai striker put up commanding displays for the White Lion in the month under review.

During that time, the 31-year-old contributed six goals in five outings with Carlos Inarejos’ men winning just three games.

Ighalo bagged a double as the Riyadh-based team ended their 2020-21 Saudi Professional League season with a 3-0 victory over Al Wehda on Sunday.

That result saw Al Shabab finish second on the Pro League table, four points behind winners Al Hilal. Also, that earned them an automatic spot for next season's AFC Champions League.

Although he joined Inarejos's side in the middle of the season after completing his loan spell at Manchester United, Ighalo ended his first league season in the Middle East as the joint-second top-scorer for Al Shabab – tied on nine goals with Portugal's Fabio Martins.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Golden Boot winner’s brilliant scoring form has seen fans clamour for his return to Gernot Rohr’s squad.

However, former England international John Fashanu has disagreed with the idea of Ighalo's return.

“Experience in football counts but we don’t want to do anything to upset the young boys or make them a little bit depressed,” Fashanu told the Punch.

“The only thing Ighalo has to offer to the national team is his experience, it is not his ability because there are players who are far better than him and we know that.

“If Rohr wants to bring him in because he stabilizes the squad, it is fine. I remember when I was in my 30s and the manager kept bringing me back, it wasn’t because I was a great player but I gave the team confidence. And that might also be the reason why Rohr wants to bring him back but other than that his time is gone.

“Ighalo is in his 30s and in Nigeria we have fantastic prospects that are fighting to get that spot but not all of them can make the squad.

“If you keep playing the older players it is at the detriment of the younger players. It is high time we start seeing 17, 18-year-old geniuses in the national team.

“Where there is no talent the coach may consider bringing him back but there are so many talents and it would be very wrong to bring him back at this stage.”