Ex-Manchester United striker Ighalo joins Saudi’s Al-Shabab

Shanghai (AFP) – Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo, who recently concluded a year on loan at Manchester United, has joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab from Shanghai Shenhua.

The 31-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, the six-time Saudi champions said on Twitter, and becomes the latest major name to depart the Chinese Super League.

Former Watford and Granada star Ighalo fulfilled a boyhood dream when he joined Premier League giants United on loan in January last year.

As a back-up striker he made 23 appearances for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and scored five goals, but barely saw action this season after United signed Uruguayan marksman Edinson Cavani.

Saying farewell to United at the end of last month, Ighalo wrote on Instagram: “I’m still, and would remain, a Manchester United fan for ever.”

The Chinese Super League gained a reputation for luring star players and coaches from Europe on lavish contracts in recent years.

But Chinese football has moved to rein in the spending through salary caps and a 100 percent transfer tax on incoming foreign players.

Several well-known foreign players have departed in recent months.

Ighalo’s Shenhua team-mate, the Italian international forward Stephan El Shaarawy, similarly left the Chinese club last week when he returned to Roma.

Veteran former international forwards Hulk and Graziano Pelle both left China towards the end of last year.

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