Odion Ighalo Reveals He Turned Down Barcelona For First Team Football

In January Barcelona were after a striker to play back up to Luis Suarez and were linked with surprise names, now Odion Ighalo has explained that he turned them down as he didn't want to sit on the bench.

Signing squad players can be pretty tricky especially when you're Barcelona. It's hardly a reason to feel sorry for the Catalan giants but given everyone's availability there's not much question who will start for them in certain positions.

In January when the La Liga champions were on the lookout for a new striker they weren't looking for someone to challenge Luis Suarez to be the number one striker, they were just hoping for someone competent to replace him when injured and to rest him on occasion.

That search saw them linked with nearly as many surprising names as 18 months earlier when Chelsea ended up being linked with Ashley Barnes and Peter Crouch.

In the end Barca got Kevin-Prince Boateng to cover their back up striker position but not before Odion Ighalo had turned down the possibility.

Talking to BBC Sport the former Watford striker explained that the nature of the role put him off, saying:

"My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football.

"It was meant to be a six-month loan and strictly as a back-up striker. It was nice to hear that Barcelona were interested and any footballer would be more than happy to take it.

"With due respect I had just finished as the second top scorer in China with 21 goals, I deserve better and didn't want to be a short-term player somewhere.

"We rejected it, it was an easy decision to make and I chose to stay in China by joining Shanghai Shenhua on a longer contract."

Ighalo was on fire in his debut Premier League season. Image: PA Images
Ighalo was on fire in his debut Premier League season. Image: PA Images

Ighalo had previously spent time in Spain with Granada, on two separate occasions, but only scored 12 goals in three season in La Liga before his move to England.

With Watford the Nigerian helped them gain promotion from the Championship before scoring 15 goals in his one full season in the top tier.

He then moved to China in January 2017, joining Changchun Yatai. In February, having turned down Barcelona he transferred to fellow Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

Boateng moved to Barca instead and had since played just two games, one in the league and one in the Copa del Rey.

Perhaps Ighalo was right all along.

Ryan Sidle

Ryan is a writer for SPORTbible. He covers all sport from football, formula one, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, mma and wrestling. He obviously hates YOUR football team and has no interest in synchronised swimming.

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