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‘Gino Pozzo wants Watford in the Europa League’

Odion Ighalo says Gino Pozzo has ambitions of Watford being in the Europa League, revealing the owner’s grand plans were one of the motivating factors behind him signing a bumper new contract that is reported to contain a buy-out clause.

It was announced last week that Ighalo has signed a much-improved five year contract, his third in less than two seasons and one that replaces the five-year deal he signed in October. The Sun report the contract contains a £32m buy-out clause that can be activated by a top-six Premier League club.

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“I’m happy to be here,” said Ighalo in an interview conducted by Premier League TV that featured on the club website. “This is my third season and everything has been going great. Even when it didn’t the club supported me. I don’t have any regrets about signing. If they had given me more than five years, I’m going to sign it as I’m happy here.”

Ighalo has turned down moves to China in successive summers but didn’t even get the chance to consider a £35m bid from Manchester United in January as the club turned it down. The club were only concerned about losing Ighalo this summer if United, the club he supported as a boy growing up on the streets of Lagos, came calling again, but the Red Devils recalibrated their targets after replacing Louis van Gaal with Jose Mourinho.

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United are in the Europa League this season and Ighalo hopes progressive Watford are competing on the continent by the time his contract expires in 2021.

“The way the owner is planning, bringing in players, he has ambition,” he said. “I’ve known Gino for eight or nine years. His mentality is to win, to improve. He wants to build this team and, in the near future, to play in the Europa League, that’s his ambition.”

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Firing Watford into Europe, for the first time since 1984, would be another milestone in a career that has exploded to life since he signed from Granada, initially on loan, in 2014.

“Most of things I have achieved have been at Watford,” he said. “If I wasn’t playing at Watford people wouldn’t know me. I’m well known now in my country, Watford gave me the opportunity. People knew me when I was Spain, but not like now I am here. We still have great things to do in the future.”