MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo, who joined the club on loan from China’s Shanghai Shenhua, will miss a training camp in Spain as he may not clear U.K. immigration on the team’s return should border restrictions tighten due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Over 800 people have died in mainland China due to the flu-like virus after it first emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, late last year and it has also shut down Chinese cities and forced thousands more into quarantine around the world.
More than two dozen airlines have suspended or restricted flights to China and at least 17 countries have imposed travel restrictions on people coming from the country.
“Odion will stay in Manchester because he arrived from China in the last 14 days,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quoted as saying on the club’s website.
“Because of the situation in China, we’re not sure if he’d be allowed back into England if he leaves the country again, so he’s staying, working with a personal coach, individual program and his family then can settle in England.
“Of course, he might have liked to come with the players and got to know them but the risk (of potential border restrictions tightening), we don’t want to take that.”
The 30-year-old Ighalo, a boyhood United fan, said he had agreed to take a pay cut to ensure his move to Old Trafford until the end of the season went through on transfer deadline day last month.
United, which is currently on a winter break, travels to Spain on Saturday to prepare for its next Premier League match at Chelsea on Feb. 17.
Midfielder Scott McTominay (knee) and defender Axel Tuanzebe (thigh), who have not played since December, will join the rest of the squad as it continues its recovery.
Record signing Paul Pogba remains sidelined following ankle surgery, while striker Marcus Rashford is nursing a stress fracture in his back.