One of the highlights of last season was the sight of Alex Iwobi performing exceptionally well for Arsenal on the wings as he dumped the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Chamberlain to the bench for some of the season.
The 21-year-old Nigerian international, who is the nephew of Nigerian football legend, Jay Jay Okocha impressed during the early part of the campaign, but soon went off the boil as he struggled to consistently maintain his form.
Then an upturn in fortunes for both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain relegated Iwobi back to the bench, and looking to the future, he must leave on loan or risk his career being stunted due to lack of first team opportunities.
Iwobi was in Australia for the club’s pre-season tour in which he combined with new signing Alexandre Lacazette for the 2nd goal in our 2-0 win over Sydney FC, he also scored our last gasp equaliser against Bayern Munich, which led to us beating the Germans on penalties. These were just pre-season friendlies, but looking ahead a bit more seriously, the player needs to consider his options ahead of the new season.
Arsene Wenger has switched to the 3-4-3 formation which worked well to great effect at the tail end of last season and Iwobi is just not suited to be a starter or adapt his game to suit this new formation. He can’t play as a wing back, as he is not great defensively and on either flank, he would never dislodge the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and with Lacazette expected to lead the line, there is no room there either for the Nigerian to muscle his way in to.
Iwobi is a winger and attacking midfielder known for his technical ability, dribbling skills and creativity, but he needs to work on his final ball, a trait which separates quality players from average ones. Too many times last season, he flattered to deceive and didn’t have the results to back up his obvious talents on the pitch and ahead of a World Cup year in which Nigeria look to be on the way to Russia, Iwobi needs to play regularly to give himself a chance of playing for Nigeria at the tournament.
Sometimes it is better to grow apart before coming back together, so Iwobi needs to leave his comfort zone and prove he can mix it with the very best, and the best place for this could definitely be somewhere outside of The Emirates.