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Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has backed calls for the club to sign Odion Ighalo permanently at the end of the season and has compared the striker’s impact to that of Henrik Larsson in the 2006/07 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was intent on bolstering his attacking options following Marcus Rashford’s back injury and eyebrows were raised when the Red Devils reached an agreement for Ighalo on the final day of the January transfer window.

The 30-year-old forward had been plying his trade in the Chinese Super League with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua and there were serious doubts over whether he would be able to replicate the form he showed at Watford from 2014 to 2017.

But Ighalo, a lifelong United fan, has been a revelation since returning to these shores, racking up four goals and one assist in his opening eight appearances, and the latest reports suggest the club plan to sign him permanently for £15million this summer.

Discussing these rumours during a Q&A session with his Instagram followers, ex-United defender Ferdinand said: ‘Wow, eight games, three starts in that, four goals and one assist. Ighalo, do you sign him for Manchester United now?

‘All them people that out there that were saying: “What are we doing signing Ighalo? What’s going on? What’s Ole thinking?” – I was one of them, I have to admit it. “Ighalo’s been in China, the league’s nowhere near what the Premier League is so how’s he gonna get up to speed? Is he gonna be ready straight away? We need somebody to come and make an impact immediately.

Coming from China, impossible”. Well he’s proved us all wrong. ‘This guy has proved us all wrong. It’s refreshing to see someone who is like a supporter, who is thankful. He looks like he’s absolutely delighted to be at Manchester United. He’s been a Manchester United supporter his whole life.

He looks like he’s saying “thank you” every day he walks up to Ole for giving him this opportunity. He’s not someone who says “Manchester United are lucky to have me here” – that’s the vibe I’ve got for a little while and that’s not just United, that’s other clubs as well.

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