KEY POINTS

  • Odion Ighalo bids farewell after a one-year stint with Manchester United
  • The Nigerian treasures the opportunity to be in Red Devils uniform
  • Manchester United eyes Edin Dzeko as Ighalo's replacement

Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo has penned a heartfelt farewell to Manchester United supporters after his one-year loan deal with the Old Trafford-based club came to a conclusion.

The 31-year-old arrived on loan from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua in January of last year and made a telling contribution to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side.

Ighalo scored five goals in 19 appearances, propelling the Red Devils to the semi-finals in the FA Cup and Europa League while also helping them secure third place in the English Premier League last season.

Edinson Cavani’s arrival on a free transfer last summer saw him drop out of the Norwegian mentor’s plans for the ongoing campaign.

Despite his desire to remain until the end of the season, Manchester United's front office has opted not to extend his loan deal.

"It's so hard to see this dream come to an end," Ighalo wrote on Instagram. "But I give God the glory for helping me fulfil this lifelong dream of putting on a Manchester United shirt as a player and represent this great club. Tt was indeed an honor I will forever cherish and be grateful for.”

"To the manager, I say thank you for trusting and believing in me when many did not. To my amazing teammates, I will miss you guys. It was always fun and a time I look forward to training and spending time with all of you," he added. " And I pray we win the league and FA Cup this year."

"To the best fans in the world, we have missed you, but we hear your voices cheering us on from afar. We can't wait to have you all back on the stands. I'm still and would remain a Manchester United fan forever. Once a Red, always a Red. Thank you Manchester United and God bless."

Ighalo’s departure from Old Trafford opens up space in the striking department, and Manchester United is looking at Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko as a possible replacement.

The 34-year-old goal machine has had a falling out with AS Roma manager Paulo Fonseca--with rumors that he is on his way out of the Serie A club.

Dzeko spent five seasons in England with Manchester City, winning five trophies before leaving to join AS Roma in 2015.

According to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, the Bosnia-Herzegovina international has been offered to both Manchester top-flight clubs. However, City manager Pep Guardiola has rejected the chance to re-sign the forward.

Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring his second goal for Manchester City against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photo: Reuters