On August 1 2019, the social media was filled with excitement from Arsenal fans after their club pulled one of the major coups in the transfer window with the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille.
In fairness, the Gunners faithful have every reason to celebrate this feat having endured the agony of their club’s inability to spend on quality players in past transfer windows due to a shoestring budget.
Even in this transfer window, Arsenal were reported to have 45m pounds transfer budget in the present football market that players like Harry Maguire go for 85m pounds.
However, the Gunners were able to pull off some miracle with the signing of Pepe. Although the Ivorien international cost a reported 72m pounds which is a club-record fee, they only paid 20m upfront and will pay the rest in five instalments.
Arsenal also beat the likes Bayern Munich, Napoli and Manchester United for the services of the 24-year-old despite not having champions league football to offer.
Although Pepe is a brilliant signing for the Gunners, his arrival at the Emirates is at the detriment of Alex Iwobi whose wish for more game time is set to take a huge dent and could even spell the end of his time at the club.
Since Iwobi made his Arsenal debut in 2015, his performances have drawn in mixed criticism. There are times the 23-year-old showed flashes of brilliance that made fans and pundits believe Arsenal have another gem, while there have been times Arsenal fans have called for his sale, saying he will never fulfil his potential.
And if one takes a look at Iwobi’s performances at Arsenal since he made his debut, it is hard to blame fans who are calling for his sale.
The Nigerian international has played over 100 premier league games for the Gunners, but it has been plagued with inconsistent performances.
He made a total of 35 appearances in the league last season managing just three goals and six assists. With Pepe’s arrival, he is not likely to get the chance this season to improve on that.
Iwobi is certain to be on the bench for most of the time this season given Emery likelihood of playing the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 this season.
The Spaniard played the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 last season which gave Iwobi the chance to be used as a winger. But with the club now having a lot of midfield cover following Ceballos signing, Emery is set to ditch that for a more attacking approach.
Pepe will likely play as a right-winger if Emery deploys the 4-2-3-1 which means Aubameyang will take up up the other wing role with Ozil playing behind Lacazette.
And that means there’s no room for Iwobi because there’s no way he will be picked ahead of Pepe or Aubameyang while Emery does not trust him enough to take up the playmaker role which many feels is his best position.
With a lack of game time looming, it could mean Iwobi’s development will stutter and that indirectly affects the Super Eagles also.
At a time the Super Eagles are hoping Okocha’s nephew can take up the playmaker role vacated by John Mikel Obi, they would have hoped he will get enough chance at the club show his potential.
But with Pepe’s signing and a lack of preseason due to his exertions with the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations, it’s hard to see Iwobi starting regularly for the Gunners this season.
And that is not good for the player’s prospects and Super Eagles prospects. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the Emirates then and go in search of regular football.