Odion Ighalo vital to Watford's season aspirations

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Football News

Following his strike against Sunderland over the weekend, Watford's Odion Ighalo extended his goal tally this caldendar year to 26 - more than any Premier League striker.

The Nigerian has been the driving force in helping his side to seventh in the Premier League this season, already 11 points clear of the dreaded relegation zone and only four away from Champions League places.

Despite making only 16 appearances in the division, he is the club’s all-time leading Premier League scorer.


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Only Jamie Vardy, Romelu Lukaku and Riyad Mahrez have scored more in the league than the ten Ighalo has to his name; nobody, though, has scored a higher percentage of their team's goals than the 55% he has.

It could have been a completely different story for Watford and Ighalo, though, given the Hornets agreed to sell him to Chinese side Hebei Chinese Fortune for £10 million over the summer.

The 26-year-old eventually turned down the move, insisting “money isn’t everything." If he had taken the same attitude of many footballers these days, Ighalo would undoubtedly have been off.

Having stayed in England, the Nigeria international has been one of the top marksmen in the Premier League. He has the sixth highest shots per game rate this season, averaging 3.4 strikes, crucial to a club unlikely to create too many chances.

His confidence and composure in front of goal has particularly shone. Far too often is it the case Championship strikers struggle to have a telling impact upon promotion to England's top flight - but this simply isn't the case with Ighalo.

The importance of Troy Deeney cannot be ignored either. Manager Quique Sanchez Flores has taken the bold move of playing two strikers week in, week out - something very few clubs do in the Premier League.

Deeney has provided four assists this season, all of which have set up Ighalo. It is the perfect partnership on paper, with Deeney’s strength and power perfectly complementing Ighalo’s pace and technical ability.

As a result of the striking duo's form, though, Watford could face interest from bigger clubs for their signatures, namely Ighalo, who looks a natural creator and goalscorer. Few would be surprised if a club like Manchester United came in for the Nigerian.

If Watford's marksman can keep up his brilliant goalscoring form, Flores' side can finish in the top ten; if he leaves in January, the Hornets will struggle to replace him with a player anywhere near the quality he possesses and could face a fight for survival.

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