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.
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.”