Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to have more faith in on-loan striker Odion Ighalo, according to former Nigeria forward Victor Ezeji.
Ighalo’s arrival from Shanghai Shenhua in January raised eyebrows but he responded with five goals in eight appearances in the Europa League and FA Cup.
However, he didn’t play more than 20 minutes in a single Premier League match during 2019-20.
With his extended loan deal expiring in the new year, Ezeji thinks Ighalo needs to look elsewhere as he won’t get enough chances at United – despite it being his boyhood club.
“Every coach believes in his starting XI and to be very fair to Ighalo, the Covid situation did not help him, because if not for Covid, [Marcus] Rashford would still have been out until the end of the season,” Ezeji told Goal.
“And when Rashford recovered, because of the belief Ole has in Rashford, he had to bring him back into the team.
“And then you can see that [Anthony] Martial was firing on all cylinders, same as [Mason] Greenwood, so there was no way Ole was going to drop any of those guys for Ighalo.
“But where I will fault Ole is that even when these guys are not meeting up in some games, I think he should have tried Ighalo.
“It wasn’t really nice that a player’s contract was renewed and you didn’t even allow him to play up to 20 minutes of any Premier League game. That is not encouraging. It makes a player lose all the confidence he has built over time.”
Ezeji believes that if he had been given more of a chance, Ighalo could have earned himself a dream permanent move to Old Trafford.
“If Ighalo was still having regular games to play, probably his confidence would have grown and probably Manchester United would have even tried to buy him permanently, but that didn’t happen,” he said.
“Ighalo had to cut down his wages just to be in Manchester. I think he has achieved his dream of playing for them, but now it’s for him to look elsewhere.”
United start their Premier League campaign with a home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Ighalo likely to start on the bench.