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Will Ighalo have a successful late season cameo at Man Utd like these players?

  /  autty

Odion Ighalo is likely to make his Manchester United debut when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side pick up after the winter break against Chelsea on Monday night.

The Nigerian striker was signed on loan from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua during last month's transfer window with United short on forward options following Marcus Rashford's back injury.

Solskjaer will hope Ighalo, who previously played in the Premier League with Watford, will contribute a few important goals as United compete on three fronts between now and the end of the season.

But it's far from the first time a top-flight club has brought in someone on loan in their time of need and United will be hoping Ighalo makes a similar impact to these players.

Henrik Larsson (Manchester United, 2007)

United have been in a similar situation before. In the winter of 2006-07, as they chased silverware in the Premier League and the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson was struggling with a thin strike force.

The only fit players at the time were Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha and Solskjaer, by then in the injury-plagued twilight of his career and restricted to cameos from the bench. Alan Smith was struggling for fitness.

It came after Ferguson sold Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid the previous summer, echoing Solskjaer's decision to let Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez go to Inter Milan last summer.

Ferguson's inspired solution was to take Swedish legend Larsson, who was 35 at the time, on loan from Helsingborgs ahead of the start of the Allsvenskan's off-season.

Larsson only scored three times in 13 matches - on his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup, against Watford in the league and Lille in the Champions League - but made a deep impression.

The United fans loved him and the club tried to extend his loan until the end of the season, with Ferguson saying: 'He's been fantastic for us; his professionalism, his attitude, everything he's done has been excellent.'

United went on to win the Premier League but Larsson didn't play in enough matches to be awarded a medal.

George Weah (Chelsea, 2000)

Weah was 33 when Gianluca Vialli signed him on loan from AC Milan in January 2000, with Chelsea hoping for a strong finish in the league and midway through the second group stage of the Champions League.

But the Liberian legend made a positive impression during his few months at Stamford Bridge, especially after scoring the winner against London rivals Tottenham on his debut with a header.

It was all the more remarkable given Weah had only arrived from Italy a few hours before the game and he came off the bench to score three minutes from time.

He went on to score four more goals for Chelsea, against Liverpool and Wimbledon in the league, plus Leicester and Gillingham in the FA Cup as Chelsea lifted the trophy.

However, despite a lot of affection from Chelsea fans, Vialli decided against making Weah's loan move permanent and he joined Manchester City shortly afterwards.

Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham Hotspur, 1998)

We already know about Klinsmann's first spell at Tottenham and the 29 goals he scored in all competitions during the 1994-95 campaign.

But his return to White Hart Lane in Spurs' hour of need during the 1997-98 season was equally remarkable.

Spurs had replaced Gerry Francis with Christian Gross during an abysmal start to the season and sat in the relegation zone when Klinsmann returned on loan from Sampdoria.

The German's goals in matches against West Ham, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Wimbledon (in which he scored four times) and Southampton spared them from relegation.

With Klinsmann retiring from professional club football after the final day, it was certainly a fitting end to a fine career.

Christophe Dugarry (Birmingham City, 2003)

Birmingham City were 15th and in serious relegation danger when they took French World Cup winner Dugarry on loan from Bordeaux in January 2003.

'We're delighted that he's chosen us,' said Birmingham boss Steve Bruce at the time. 'To have someone of his credentials is a massive, massive thing for us. It's the biggest signing this club has ever made.'

The club had slipped to 17th when Dugarry scored four goals in three matches to earn late-season wins against Charlton, Southampton and Middlesbrough to keep their heads above water.

Birmingham ultimately finished six points above the bottom three and Dugarry made his move permanent, playing a further 14 times during the 2003-04 season.

Robbie Keane (Leeds United, 2000-01)

Having impressed in his first Premier League season with Coventry City, Irish hotshot Keane earned a £13million move to Inter Milan with their manager Marcello Lippi a big fan.

Unfortunately, Lippi was sacked shortly after his arrival and his successor, Marco Tardelli, didn't quite share the enthusiasm.

That offered Leeds an opportunity and they took Keane on loan in December 2000 as they competed in the Premier League and the Champions League.

Keane excelled at Elland Road, scoring nine goals in 20 games during his loan spell, and it was a no-brainer for Leeds to make permanent his signing for £12m.

His goals weren't enough to return Leeds to the Champions League, however, as they finished fourth in the Premier League back in the days when only the top three qualified.

Mikel Arteta (Everton, 2005)

Everton were enjoying a great season in 2004-05 and were in contention for Champions League qualification.

But manager David Moyes knew he may need a couple of squad additions to get his team over the line and clinch that fourth spot.

One of those he brought in to Goodison Park was Spanish midfielder Arteta, on loan from Real Sociedad, and he would go on to help Everton achieve their top-four ambition.

Arteta played 13 times during his loan and impressed more than enough to win himself a permanent transfer on a five-year contract in July 2005 for just £2m.

Given Arteta, now the Arsenal manager, stayed with the club for a further six seasons, it proved to be an inspired move.

Kevin Campbell (Everton, 1999)

Everton's fortunes were rather different in 1999 as they faced the very real threat of relegation amid a turbulent campaign.

Walter Smith needed a change of fortune and it arrived with the decision to rescue Campbell from what had been an unsettling time at Turkish club Trabzonspor.

They chairman Mehmet Ali Yilmaz launched a racist attack on Campbell, describing him as a 'cannibal', and the striker left the club not long afterwards.

Everton signed Campbell in March 1999 and he went on an extraordinary scoring run of nine goals in five games to earn the required wins to stave off relegation.

He scored two goals in each of the wins over Coventry, Newcastle and Charlton, plus a hat-trick in a 6-0 thrashing of West Ham, to pretty much single-handedly save the club from the drop.

Campbell's move was duly made permanent for £3m and he was Everton's leading scorer the following season.

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace, 2017)

Crystal Palace were in serious relegation bother as a result of their inability to defend properly at the turn of the 2016-17 season, with Alan Pardew fired and replaced by Sam Allardyce.

After January didn't see a great deal of improvement, Big Sam moved in the transfer market to strengthen his defence and took France international Sakho on loan from Liverpool.

The move suited Liverpool as well because the centre-half had fallen out with Jurgen Klopp during their pre-season tour of the United States and had been demoted to the reserves.

Suddenly back in the Premier League, Sakho added some much-needed stability to the Palace defence to help them climb to an eventual finish of 14th.

Despite playing in just eight league games during his loan, Sakho was shortlisted for Palace's Player of the Year award and he duly joined them from Liverpool for £24m in the summer.


Not all mid-season loan signings work, however, and there have been plenty of examples of players brought in who flopped.

Remember Arsenal signing Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow on January deadline day in 2014 despite his medical revealing damaged vertebrae in his back?

Kallstrom didn't make his debut until late March as a result though he did score a decisive penalty in Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final shoot-out against Wigan.

Then there was Chelsea's decision to take erstwhile Brazilian wonderkid Alexandre Pato on loan from Corinthians in 2016.

It took him weeks to get match fit for the Premier League, finally making his debut on April 2 and playing only once thereafter before disappearing.

A more recent Chelsea failure was Gonzalo Higuain, who was signed by his former manager Maurizio Sarri to solve a striker shortage in January last year.

Though the Argentine scored five times in 19 outings, he was widely considered a flop during his time in the Premier League.

But perhaps the most bizarre was Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to sign veteran goalkeeper Andy Goram on loan in 2001.

Motherwell had been preparing to release the 36-year-old, who probably couldn't believe his luck when Fergie phoned asking for his service.

Even more incredibly, Goram played twice for United and was there when they sealed the Premier League title.