• Odion Ighalo is headed to Saudi Arabian club
  • Al Shabab gets a boost in its title-aspiration bid with Ighalo in the mix
  • Ighalo cherishes his Red Devils run as he got to fulfill his childhood dream

Odion Ighalo officially saw his dream run with Manchester United come to a close after his loan deal formally expired.

After careful deliberation, the 31-year-old opted to pick up the offer from Al Shabab of the Saudi Professional League.

Ighalo’s arrival would provide the Saudi club a big boost. The league is just in the halfway stages of its current season, and Al Shabab is lording it over the top.

The addition of the Nigerian should raise their chances of the club winning its first league title since 2011-12.

"Despite interest from other clubs, this is a good move for the player because Al Shabab showed ambition and commitment in their efforts to sign him," one of Ighalo’s representatives said to BBC Sport Africa.

It was a sad ending for Ighalo who cherished his time at Old Trafford. It was a lifelong dream for the Nigerian striker whose coming was initially questioned.

That quickly changed when he started to make big strides for the Red Devils, scoring to help in wins in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

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

Ighalo ends his Red Devils’ run with 23 appearances. Before his loan spell concluded, he only saw action in four matches.

The Nigerian ably provided Manchester United with the needed boost although it was clearly understood this was temporary.

With most players injured when 2020 started, Ighalo was tasked to do something to keep Manchester United afloat. He made an immediate impact by picking up the scoring slack.

Odion Ighalo has not been able to train with his new Manchester United teammates due to fears over the coronavirus
Odion Ighalo has not been able to train with his new Manchester United teammates due to fears over the coronavirus AFP / JAVIER SORIANO

But when the regulars started to return, Ighalo’s stock unsurprisingly dipped. He saw his playing time diminish as he slid down the pecking order behind Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani.

Though his dream run ended, Ighalo made it clear that his heart still belonged with the Red Devils.

"I’m still and would remain a Manchester United forever," he said. "Once a red, always a red. Thank you, Manchester United, and God bless."