Alex Iwobi has been the subject of taunts, abuse and criticism for the majority of last season but somehow and to his eternal credit, the youngster rose above it all to often deliver a series of assured performances, while much bigger stars plodded through a game without showing any effort or interest.
Alex Iwobi is determined to prove himself at Arsenal after helping Nigeria win bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 22, 2019
None of that effort will be recognised now the upgraded arrivals are on their way. Gabriel Martinelli is already onboard and there’s still the promise of Everton Soares and Nicolas Pepe, with the Frenchman’s signature in particular, being heralded as a transfer masterstroke as well as the theft of the century from under the noses of Napoli.
Iwobi was said to be worried by the possible acquisition of Crystal Palace striker Wilfred Zaha but Arsenal are apparently just 48 hours from securing the services of Nicolas Pepe, which could be even more disastrous for Iwobi and his first team ambitions.
It could also hinder the progression of Arsenal’s young guns such as Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka but I suspect they will notch up their appearances in cup matches of little interest or consequence.
In terms of Iwobi, he may now be third choice on occasion and although I’m not one of the boo boys that have given Iwobi such an awful time with a succession of brutal comments across social media, I readily admit that his real flaw is his final ball.
Iwobi: “I am up for the fight but the only time I would consider leaving is if I am not playing as much as I would like to. My joy is to play football & not just sit out. We have big stars already, so by adding another one, I’ll just have to prove I can do better than them.” #afc pic.twitter.com/f2EHv5AbMo
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) July 22, 2019
His attack play is exciting and direct, his pace and physical attributes make him a threat but when he gets to the box, Iwobi tends to go ga-ga and scuff the ball or put it into the path of a defender.
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It’s been his undoing on numerous occasions over the course of last season. Yet one has to admire his tenacious nature and the way he just dusts himself off when lambasted. It’s too early to know exactly what Iwobi thinks of Pepe’s arrival but he said this when faced with the prospect of Zaha.
The 23-year-old told The Sun,
“I am not one to chicken out, I have had it all over the years, being told I’m not good enough. So whenever the chance comes I always try and prove I should be starting. But it’s going to be difficult if Zaha comes. He will add more stress. Obviously my joy is to play football and not just sit out. If it comes to that I would have no choice but to leave. But I would always put up a fight to play – that is what I’ve done all my life.”
It’s fair to say that Pepe is an upgrade, not only on Zaha but Iwobi too because he adds a fearsome thirst for goal to his outstanding technical ability. Aubameyang and Lacazette must be thinking Christmas is early with a possible trio of Martinelli, Soares and Pepe to provide the chances.
What looked to be a rather drab transfer window has suddenly been elevated to possibly one of the best of Arsenal can secure their main targets. The season is starting to look slightly more promising for Arsenal fans but for Iwobi, it could spell the beginning of the end.