Odion Ighalo says he turned down “crazy money” over the summer to play in China in favour of testing himself in the Premier League with Watford.
Fresh from signing a new five-year deal to remain at Vicarage Road on Friday, the former Udinese striker scored the only goal against Swansea City on Saturday to give Quique Sanchez Flores’ side their first Premier League win of the season.
Speaking afterwards the Nigerian international confirmed he had turned down an offer in the summer from Hebei China Fortune in the summer because he did not feel it was the right option for him with Premier League football on the horizon.
He said: “They made an offer to Watford but I turned it down. It was crazy money, they wanted to give me a lot of money. For my age I don’t think it was a good deal for me.
“If I play for one season in the Premier League and I do well I think I’m going to get money like that. Sometimes it’s not about money. You have to think about many things – I’m still young, I’m progressing in my career.
“I’m happy to have signed my five-year contract here and I want to keep on working every day and learning every day and then we’ll see what the future holds.”
But the forward, who has 18 goals in 23 games in 2015 – more than any player in the top four tiers in England, insists he will not be taking it easy now he has the security of a long term contract behind him.
He added: “Just because I’ve signed a five-year contract does not mean I’m going to fold my arms because I’ve secured my contract.
“I want to work hard and keep on improving every day as a player and a striker and helping my team to achieve their goal at the end of this season.”
Ighalo now has two top flight goals to his name after scoring in the opening day draw at Everton. But strike partner Troy Deeney is still waiting to get off the mark in the Premier League.
However, the 26-year-old believes the Hornets’ number nine will find the back of the net before too long.
“He is a great striker, the opportunities will come for him and I know he will take them because he is a goal scorer,” said Ighalo.
The duo played closer to one another on Saturday in what was, at times, a flat 4-4-2 system. Ighalo and Deeney thrived as a pairing last season scoring 20 and 21 goals respectively en-route to the runners-up spot in the Championship.
But this was the first time the duo had started a game next to one another since promotion, with Ighalo deployed as a number ten behind the captain in the first four games of the decision.
Flores’ decision paid dividends, too, as Heurelho Gomes’ long clearance was headed down by Deeney for Ighalo to tuck under Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
“You saw last season we played together and scored goals,” said Ighalo. “This season with the tactics the manager has been using we’ve not been playing so close but today we played a bit closer and you can see what we did.
“You saw the goal assist for him and I’m happy about it because he is a great striker who is always working hard for the team. I’m happy to have the pleasure of playing with him every time we’re on the pitch.”