Walter Mazzarri still retains faith that Odion Ighalo will come good and confirmed the club’s position that the forward will not be moved on January.
There is a fear that Ighalo is a one-season Premier League wonder and that he has been found out by top-flight defences who have wised up to his tricks and turns. Defences have played a high line against Ighalo, thus reducing opportunities in the box for the Nigerian marksman. He has found the back of the net just twice in his last 22 league games and would probably not be playing against Hull City tomorrow had Isaac Success or Stefano Okaka been fit.
“Some strikers go through more ups and down in form than others,” said Mazzarri who knows a thing or two about top-level strikers having worked with Edison Cavani, Antonio Cassano and Ezequiel Lavezzi. “One episode can unlock things for Ighalo for the whole of the season. I am happy with his performances and that we can unlock the Ighalo we all know and want. He can perhaps be more relaxed in this situation (in front of goal).”
Ighalo also retains faith inside the boardroom. They turned down £35m from Manchester United in January, £37.5m from Shanghai SIPG this summer and then withdrew from negotiations for Saido Berahino when the Baggies wanted them to throw in Ighalo in a swap deal. They feel, with the right service and at 27, he has more development in him and they will again resist any offers for him in January, mainly because they don’t like doing any business, let alone the big call of finding a replacement for a proven striker, in the one-month winter window.
“He is our player and he stays,” said Mazzarri when asked about Napoli’s reported interest in last season’s top-scorer. “He is very happy and…I hope he stays at Watford for a long time.”
Almost every player under the Pozzo umbrella has his price and Ighalo is likely to be sold at some point: when Watford have the pulling power and the time to go and judiciously land a big-money upgrade with the millions from at least a couple of seasons in the Premier League. Until then any talk of him leaving before next summer is just pie in the sky.
“It is a long way until January so why do all these voices and noises come up?” said Mazzarri. “Probably because someone wants to destabilise the environment. These rumours come from the interests of someone else. How can we even talk about Napoli and Watford now? Ighalo has got seven, eight, ten games [between now and January]? He could score 15 goals between now and January or maybe he doesn’t play. We don’t know. The only people who speak about transfers now is someone who wants to cause confusion in the market.”