Odion Ighalo has been included in Nigeria’s provisional squad for the Rio Olympics, according to reports in Africa, meaning he will miss most of pre-season and the start of the next Premier League season.
Nigeria coach Samson Siasia intimated he was looking to select Watford’s top-scorer as one of his three over-age players for the 16-team tournament between August 3 and August 20. A Nigerian journalist appeared to confirm the news in a tweet which was retweeted by Ighalo’s wife, Sonia.
The Premier League season starts on Saturday August 13 so, depending on the progress of the Super Eagles, Ighalo could miss at least two games, providing, of course, Watford do not receive a eye-watering bid for the striker they simply cannot turn down. On two occasions this season, at home to Manchester United and away at Arsenal, he has performed wretchedly after returning from international duty, so his absence could be an extended one. Watford are keen to hit the ground running next season so it will be interesting to see if they factor Ighalo’s likely call-up into their summer transfer plans.
Isaac Success, the 20-year-old Granada forward bound for Watford in the summer, is also certain to be selected by Nigeria for the U23 tournament, although the 20-year-old was carried off on a stretcher this week after colliding with fellow Watford signing Adalberto Penaranda in Granada’s 5-1 win over Levante.
There is also an outside chance Adlene Guedioura and Joel Ekstrand could be called up by Algeria and Sweden, respectively, although Ekstrand is set to leave Watford on a free transfer this summer.
“It depends on the players,” said Sanchez Flores earlier this year when asked about players with Olympic ambitions. “Some players want to go, others want to rest. It depends. If the player makes the decision he wants to stay, perfect. If he wants to go, I am happy.”