Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may already have signed his Javier Hernandez
Back in January, on transfer deadline day, Manchester United found themselves under fire. Having been linked with Edinson Cavani and Erling Haaland, the Red Devils ended up signing Odion Ighalo instead. But despite only being at the club a few months, the Nigeria international has done enough to suggest he could be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s version of Javier Hernandez.
These days, Hernandez is preparing to strut his stuff in the MLS. He’s certainly no longer regarded as being one of the best natural goalscorers out there.
But, when he was at United, the Mexico international endeared himself to fans and pundits alike.
Few had heard of him when he joined Sir Alex Ferguson’s side from C.D. Guadalajara in 2010. With the club narrowly missing out on the Premier League title to Chelsea the previous year, he wasn’t the marquee signing many had hoped for.
United had a solid strike force of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov and Hernandez was deemed as somebody solely good enough to play deputy.
But that suited him. And Hernandez never let it bother him.
He actually leapfrogged Berbatov into the Red Devils side in his first season, scoring 20 goals from 45 games across all competitions.
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Hernandez struggled with injuries in the following campaign but still found the net 18 times from 36 games in Ferguson’s final year in charge, despite often being marginalised.
And so many of his goals came off the bench.
He never let it bother him that Berbatov and Rooney, then later Robin van Persie, was ahead of him in the Old Trafford pecking order.
Instead Hernandez did his job: to score goals. So many in his final year alone stand out, from the late winner against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to his dramatic Boxing Day strike against Newcastle at Old Trafford.
While United have signed some good players in recent years, very few have gone near emulating Hernandez’s goalscoring feats.
Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku have managed to score over 20 goals for the Red Devils since Ferguson walked away.
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But, in Ighalo, United may have already signed their own modern-day Hernandez.
The Nigeria international was immediately written off when he joined the club on transfer deadline day following weeks of talk Haaland or Cavani could move to Old Trafford.
But Ighalo has been nothing short of a hit since making the move to United.
He’s barely started but has still found the net four times from eight matches, with a brace against Derby County the pick of the bunch.
Like Hernandez, the 30-year-old knows he’s likely to spend more time on the bench than on the pitch.
And, again like the Mexican, Ighalo doesn’t seem fazed by it.
Also like Hernandez, the former Watford striker is able to make a good impact in whatever amount of game time he gets given.
He very nearly scored a late winner away at Everton, only being denied by a stunning stop from Jordan Pickford in the Toffees goal.
But he did make a brilliant contribution in the 2-0 win over Manchester City, playing a key role in Scott McTominay’s late winner.
Ferguson often said that squads win titles.
And, in Ighalo, United have a player who is happy to be part of the furniture rather than the leading man.
In many ways, he’s the club’s modern-day version of Hernandez.
And United should act swiftly to turn his temporary time at Old Trafford into a permanent spell instead.
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