Rio Ferdinand has admitted Odion Ighalo has proved him wrong and urged Manchester United to make his loan stay permanent in the summer transfer window.
After United failed to land Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in January, they moved for Ighalo on deadline day, securing his signature on a six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua.
Since the switch, Ighalo has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his performances and has become a cult hero among the Old Trafford faithful.
Ferdinand has admitted he was sceptical of the deal at the time but with Ighalo netting four goals and registering one assist in just eight appearances for the Reds, the ex-United defender admitted the Nigerian international has proved him wrong.
“Wow, eight games, three starts in that, four goals and one assist. Ighalo, do you sign him for Manchester United now?” he said during a live chat on his Instagram page.
“All the people out there were saying: ‘What are we doing signing Ighalo? What’s going on? What’s Ole thinking?’ – I was one of them, I have to admit it.
“Ighalo’s been in China, the league’s nowhere near what the Premier League is so how’s he gonna get up to speed? Is he gonna be ready straight away? We need somebody to come and make an impact immediately. Coming from China, impossible.
“Well he’s proved us all wrong. This guy has proved us all wrong. It’s refreshing to see someone who is like a supporter, who is thankful. He looks like he’s absolutely delighted to be at Manchester United. He’s been a Manchester United supporter his whole life. He looks like he’s saying ‘thank you’ every day he walks up to Ole for giving him this opportunity.
“He’s not someone who says ‘Manchester United are lucky to have me here’ – that’s the vibe I’ve got for a little while and that’s not just United, that’s other clubs as well.
“This boy looks like he’s happy to be here: ‘Whatever you tell me to do I’m gonna go out there and do it to the best of my ability. I’m gonna give you 100 per cent every day in training and in matches because I love this club and I want to do right by this club’. I love it.
“It’s shocked me to see what he’s done. Listen, we’re not talking like he’s turned Man United into world-beaters but United needed something and he’s brought it in and given it and that’s all you can ask for.
“And I think he’s warranted the opportunity to come in as a full-time player and what he’s given Manchester United which they didn’t have is someone they can pass the ball into and can hold it up, he’s got a physical presence, he can hold off a defender or two and lay the ball in for someone else to score.”
Ferdinand believes Ighalo can have an impact on Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James in training.
The former defender thinks the 30-year-old can follow in the footsteps of Henrik Larsson.
He added: “Rashford, when he’s fit, will appreciate playing with someone like this.
“He can have the impact of the Rashfords, on the Martials, on Daniel James etc. that someone like Henrik Larsson can have on the likes of [Wayne] Rooney and [Louis] Saha when he was there.
“That little bit of experience. He’s got something that’s different to all the other guys in the team and you need that sometimes.”