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Ighalo rejected Chinese fortune for Premier League dream

Watford striker Odion Ighalo claims he turned down almost £300,000 per week to play in China in favour of pursuing his Premier League “dream”.

The 26-year-old has scored 15 goals in a hugely impressive first season in the top flight under manager Quique Sanchez Flores.

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Ighalo says he came “very close” to moving to Hebei China Fortune last year, but turned down their mega-money offer in order to achieve a lifelong ambition.

“I was very close,” he said, as quoted by The Daily Mail. “They made a £10million bid and were offering me over £200,000 a week; a four-year contract.

“I couldn’t sleep for three days. That kind of money is not easy to turn down. Some team-mates in the dressing room were saying ‘You can’t miss this chance’. But I don’t jump into decisions like that.

“I prayed about it and God said it was not for me, no matter how much money it was. I knew God would direct me. When I said I don’t want to go, they offered me more money, almost £300,000 a week. I told them it’s not about the money.

“When I was in Ajegunle, I was watching the Premier League, dreaming one day I would be part of it. If I keep doing what I’m doing I can enjoy my football in England for four, five or six years.

“I helped this team to promotion. How can I leave because of money? I know money is good. With that sort of money I can secure my life. But you can’t sell your dream.”

Hebei spent £13.8m to bring in Gervinho from Roma before signing Stephane M’Bia from Sevilla, in a spell which has seen Super League clubs spend lavish sums to bring big-name players to China.

And Ighalo admits there may come a time when he will be persuaded to take up an offer.

“They have called again and I have turned them down again,” he said. “Maybe if I keep scoring goals, that team will come with triple the money at the end of the season. When the time is right to go to China I will know. If it’s for me it will come to pass.”

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