Shanghai Greenland Shenhua of China striker, Odion Jude Ighalo will return to his club after the Africa Cup of Nations to find out that the coach, Quique Sanchez Flores has left.
In what could become a huge blow to Ighalo’s prospects with Shenhua in the second half of the year, the Super Eagles’ star will be surprised to learn that Flores, who first coached him and became his mentor during their days together at Watford of England, has resigned as head coach of the Shanghai-based Chinese Super League outfit after just six months.
The Spaniard, who became endered to Ighalo during his days at Granada of Spain, joined on Christmas Day 2018 but only oversaw 17 competitive games, and departs halfway through the season with the club 14th out of 16, one point and one place above the relegation zone.
During his time with Shenhua, Flores only won three league games in his time at the club, who finished seventh last season in the CSL, 30 points behind top-placed local rivals, Shanghai SIPG.
Flores, who previously coached Benfica, Valencia and Atletico Madrid and whose godfather was Alfredo di Stefano, led Watford to 12th place in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final in the 2015/16 season.
The Chinese club, previously managed by Gus Poyet, Nicolas Anelka and Howard Wilkinson and boasting Ighalo, who has seven goals in nine CSL games, have also been linked with Italy winger, Stephan El Shaarawy.
In Ighalo’s absence, Shenhua have endured a poor run of form, which snowballed in Monday night’s 3-0 home loss to Guangzhou Evergrande, and led to the 54-year-old Flores stepping down for personal reasons.
The club’s president, Wu Xiaohui confirmed the development during a meeting with fan representatives and, though he later praised Flores for his commitment to blooding youngsters, the top shot added that plans will now be stepped up to rebuild the squad.
“Of all the six years I’ve been with the club, this season has been the most difficult one. We are in a situation I never expected.
“The coaching team has been under big pressure. I promise adjustments will be made soon to keep the club in the league.”