?Former Watford striker Odion Ighalo has revealed he turned down the opportunity to join Barcelona on a short-term loan deal in January, in favour of extending his contract at Shanghai Shenhua.
The Nigeria international finished as the Chinese Super League’s second top scorer in 2018 with 21 efforts, and despite attracting interest from the Catalan giants Ighalo claimed it was an ‘easy decision’ to reject their advances.
He told ?BBC Sport: “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.”
He added: “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.
“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.”
After signing a new three-year deal with the Chinese side, Ighalo insisted he had no regrets about not joining Barcelona and instead was focused on thinking of his ‘long-term career’.
The 29-year-old said: “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.
“I have no regrets or whatsoever because I am happy at Shanghai Shenhua. To reunite and play under my former Watford coach [Quique Sánchez Flores] is exciting and I love it.”