Tuesday Apr 02, 2019. 17:00
Nigeria international Odion Ighalo has revealed why he chose to remain in China above a move to European powerhouse FC Barcelona.
The 29-year-old was linked with a surprise transfer to the Spanish LaLiga giants in January, but instead settled on remaining in the Chinese Super League following a superb season with Changchun Yatai.
Ighalo scored 21 goals in 28 games in the Chinese top-flight last season, but couldn't help his team avoid relegation. He was duly linked with a move to either England or Spain, before Shanghai Shenhua came calling.
"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," Ighalo told BBC Sport.
"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.
"But 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.
He continued: "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."
"You need to weigh things up properly in life and ask yourself if it is your call to make, or one to satisfy others.
"I respect my decision. I needed to focus on what is good for my career long-term and when you decide to do something - you stay true to yourself. It wasn't for me and I am happy where I am," Ighalo concluded.
The former Watford forward ended the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign as the top scorer with seven goals.