Confirmed reports coming out of England indicates that Watford have beaten off a host of clubs to sign M’Baye Niang from Milan on an initial six-month deal. West Ham United, Everton, Burnley and Genoa were among the clubs interested in acquiring the mercurial 22-year-old but Walter Mazzarri was able to convince him to move to Vicarage Road until the end of the season.
Reportedly, the agreement with Milan also includes an option to buy the player for £13.5m in the summer, which is optional unless he plays a certain amount of matches. If he reaches that number, then Watford will have to sign the French-born forward for the agreed fee. The player first wanted a permanent deal straight away but agreed to a temporary switch after talks on Thursday.
Walter Mazzarri’s side have also completed the signing of the Argentinian forward Mauro Zárate from Fiorentina. The 29-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal from the Serie A team, where he has scored four goals in nine starts this season.
In all of these, one is constrained to ask: what is the fate of our own Odion Ighalo if Watford are not sparing the cash in bringing in other strikers?
Admittedly, Ighalo has been below his normally impressive goal-scoring standards this term – he’s scored a miserly 2 goals in 20 appearances compared to last season when he notched 14 goals in 28 games at this stage of the season – so you will understand Watford’s decision from a business point of view.
Having been a subject of transfer speculation from Chinese clubs and a firm bid from Premier League club West Ham, Ighalo runs the risk of seeing his value drop should he continue to sit on the bench at Vicarage Road.
Football is played in the here and now so it will be remiss of Ighalo to think staying put at Watford and trying to force his way into the team will work.
If I were him or his adviser, he should put pressure on Watford to accept a bid – even if it’s a loan – from West Ham so he could go and face a fresh challenge and rediscover his form.
Ighalo is not a bad player. Not now. Not before. But like all strikers going through a goal-drought, he’s just short on confidence.
All he needs is a change of scene and you can bet he will soon be back scoring goals. I trust him. You should too.