Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo has told www.aclsports.com he is happy to reunite with his former coach Quique Sanchez Flores at new club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua while also explaining the reason behind his stay in China for a third year.
Ighalo, 29, on Wednesday joined Greenland Shenhua from relegated Chinese Super League (CSL) side Changchun Yatai for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be in the region of €9m) and the striker is relieved the deal eventually went through after some delay.
“I am happy to have joined Shanghai and reunite with my former coach in Watford,” said Ighalo to www.aclsports.com
Ighalo added that the release clause inserted into his Changchun Yatai contract made it difficult for him to leave the club quickly especially to Europe.
“It was tough (to pull through) because since I agreed to join this team, it’s been difficult because of the transfer fee which made me not to return to Europe
“I had close to 30m as my transfer clause so it’s impossible for teams in Europe to pay that kind of money and I think it’s in China here alone that teams can pay that, so we’ve been struggling with that.
“Fortunately, my (former) team reduced the fee after I told them and which they know that I can’t play in the second division,” said Ighalo.
Former Julius Berger forward Ighalo scored thirty five (35) goals in thirty-six (36) appearances for Changchun Yatai in his two seasons spent with the club. He now has his sight set on the upcoming CSL season and remains grateful to Sanchez Flores for pulling it through.
“I am looking forward to the new season. We’ve passed through this now and I want to thank Quique for putting more pressure to make sure that the President of Shanghai go out of his way to make this transfer happen.”
Ighalo will replace Senegalese striker Demba Ba who left the club by mutual consent last month in their final slot of foreign quota. Shanghai Greenland Shenhua are also the former club of former Nigerian international Obafemi Martins who left the club last summer.
The new CSL season starts on March 1, 2019 and Shenhua have a big local derby in their hands against defending league champions Shanghai SIPG in what will be Quique Sanchez Flores’ first official game since joining the club in December.