Alex Iwobi is one of those players that divides public opinion, especially when defining his most suitable position on the pitch.
The Nigerian international came through the ranks at Arsenal’s famous academy and made his first-team defeat for the Gunners in 2015.
It came in a 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup. A few days later he made his Premier League debut.
Iwobi started as an attacking/creative midfielder, and at that time, big things were expected from the Super Eagles stars.
However, it didn’t really turn that way for the 24-year-old. Not that he never had his moments, but fans expected more.
Iwobi made 145 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 15 goals and recording 27 assists in all competitions. It was a decent return for a youngster, but the modern-day football fan is never satisfied.
The 24-year-old was criticised for his inconsistency and lack of end product, which he rightly deserved. However, it is important to note that Iwobi played in several roles during his time at Arsenal, which affected his performances.
Nonetheless, after four years at the Emirates, Iwobi signed for Everton in 2019 on a five-year deal. While it looked like a downgrade, the move to Goodison Park offered him more freedom and reduced the pressure on him.
He started well with the Toffees, scoring two times in his first three games. But that was the highlight of his season as he struggled for consistency afterwards.
It was the same story that marred his time at the Emirates. While Iwobi’s natural position is an attacking midfielder, managers do not trust him in that role as he does not have the quality to control games.
As a result, Iwobi has found himself mostly on the flanks, and that was the situation in his debut season at Everton.
The Nigerian international featured in 29 games for Everton last season but played just three as an attacking midfielder.
Iwobi’s situation got more difficult offseason after Everton signed three midfielders and it led to reports that the Merseyside club are interested in selling the Super Eagles star.
However, he stayed- although he did miss the first league game of the season due to injury. But the competition in Everton’s midfield meant Iwobi was never going to get a chance in his preferred role and has played on the wings.
While his performances on the flanks have been average, it was different when he played in an unfamiliar wing-back role.
With no wins in four games, Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti decided to tweak his tactics for his side’s trip to Fulham, and that resulted in Iwobi playing as a right-wing back.
It was an unorthodox role for him, but Iwobi never put a foot wrong and was instrumental to Everton’s victory.
The Nigerian international made six successful dribbles, while he also showed his defensive skills with two successful tackles and three interceptions.
Not only that, Iwobi had an 88% pass accuracy, and he had a hand in Everton’s second on that Sunday afternoon at Craven Cottage.
He was also used in the same position in the clash against Leeds- although Everton suffered a 1-0 home loss.
However, Iwobi’s performances from the two games in an unfamiliar role suggest Ancelotti may have finally found a way to get the best out of the Nigerian.
It’s not the easiest of positions as he also has to be defensively aware, but the Nigerian international has stated he has no problem playing in the role.
It remains to be seen if Ancelotti will keep him in that place for the longterm, but judging from his performances from the last two games, Iwobi looks comfortable at right-wing back.
The Super Eagles star is still yet to convince many Evertonians, but his new role may be the key to finally unlocking his potentials.