Alex Iwobi is making an impression at his new home club in Everton, despite only starting three games out of eight so far this season. The Nigerian International relocated to East London and was brought up in the Arsenal academy before being transferred to Everton during the summer window. Iwobi has recently received praise at both a club and international level.
Iwobi joined Everton for a transfer fee that is now thought to have risen to around £35 – £40 million, with a £50k a week salary. It was a shock move, one that came right at the end of the transfer deadline after Marco Silva failed to secure winger Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace. Iwobi was previously a regular starter at Arsenal, where the 23-year old had made 149 appearances, including 100 Premier League games.
Iwobi scored 11 goals for Arsenal since joining the first team in 2015, but it’s thought that he fell down the pecking order with the arrival of £72 million Nicolas Pepe. This could have been reason enough for Iwobi to seek a role at a new club. Iwobi himself says that his reason for moving to Everton was that he sensed a “big opportunity” that he “shouldn’t turn down”, and says that he likes Silva’s ambitions and how he sees Iwobi as a part of this plan.
So far, it’s fair to say that Iwobi has made a decent first impression at Everton. He scored in his first two appearances for the club, first in the 4-2 EFL Cup victory over Lincoln and then again in the team’s wonky 3-2 home win against Wolves. Everton have since lost the following four games. This puts them firmly in the relegation zone, and no longer a likely bet for a top six finish in the EPL as Silva would have hoped. Iwobi started three of these four games, and came in as a sub for the other.
Iwobi needs to do a lot more. Although he has shown clear potential – and actualisation in the case of earlier performances – a creative player like him should be enhancing the game in a more spectacular fashion. Needless to say, Iwobi hasn’t been helped along by his teammates, or by Everton’s failing form in general. When settled, he should prove himself to be an intelligent and dangerous player at his new club. Retired legend Kanu believes his former club, Arsenal, have made a big mistake letting Iwobi go. It’s an opinion that is shared by many others.
Speaking to Football Insider, former Leeds and Coventry striker, Noel Whelan praised Alex Iwobi as “brilliant”. Whelan says that Iwobi has the much needed pace and ability to beat players and create chances. According to Whelan, Iwobi has the raw talent, but just needs to find the consistency and improve his decision making.
Whelan has even gone so far as to say Iwobi is the player who could “keep Silva his job”. Fans are clearly losing patience at the consequential league defeats; Silva himself fears that he is just one match away from the sack and that higher-ups are already scouting for replacements. The question is, can Iwobi settle in to his domestic club quick enough to make the impact needed?
Whatever happens on a domestic level, Iwobi has also been noted as a real threat at an international level. Brazil’s assistant coac,h Cleber Xavier believes Iwobi to be the man to watch in the Nigeria vs Brazil friendly match. Xavier observes that Iwobi plays more of an inside role as a second striker at Nigeria. He is the link in the counterattack, “drags opponents out of position and infiltrates well in the box”. Brazil will have played two friendlies against African nations, one against Senegal and then against Nigeria, with two more upcoming friendlies in preparation for their 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Nigeria are preparing for the 2021 African Cup of Nations.