Watford were only concerned about Manchester United returning for Odion Ighalo this summer so will shrug off any apparent interest in their prized striker from West Bromwich Albion.
United chief executive Ed Woodward contacted Watford the week leading up to the Premier League game with Newcastle on January 23 and asked if the Hornets would be receptive to a bid of £35m. Watford boldly turned it down as they were under no pressure to sell their best players and the timing of the bid left them no time to find a replacement. They had also lost four league games on the bounce and did not want to jeopardise their Premier League status, and the TV revenue that comes with it, by selling their top-scorer.
Watford were always confident of hanging onto Ighalo this summer unless United, the club the Nigerian supported as a boy, came calling again and he agitated for a move.
He has twice turned down a move to China. Hebei China Fortune had a £10m bid accepted last summer but Ighalo turned down a salary worth £40million over four years. “I am happy that I turned it down and it’s really helped me grow as a person,” he said in an interview with the Independent. “Yes, it was big money. A lot of money. But I want to keep going in my career. This is a dream come true so to leave the Premier League and go to China was not the right thing.”
Shanghai SIPG tested his and the club’s resolve this summer with a £37.5m bid but Ighalo, 27, still feels moving to China is not the right career move.
“When the time is right to go to China I will know,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “If it’s for me it will come to pass.”
West Brom would not be able to get anywhere near Watford’s £40m valuation of the player and even then, the Hornets are not in the habit of selling to a positional rival on the eve of the new season. Ighalo, meanwhile, would probably view the move as a sideways step. The Hornets showed, with Troy Deeney, how they are prepared to dig their heels in amid interest, albeit much more persistent, from a Midlands club when they rebuffed Leicester’s persistent attempts to sign their captain.