Alex Iwobi is one of those players that divide public opinions due to their performances on the pitch. The Nigerian international started his career at Arsenal with so many expectations.
He made his debut for the Gunners on September 2015- a League Cup defeat of Sheffield Wednesday- before making his premier league debut four days later.
Iwobi’s first-team career at Arsenal kicked off when he scored in the 2-0 win over Everton, his first league start.
He backed up that performance with another goal in his second league start-which came against Watford. He went on to become an integral member of Arsenal’s squad, and it was believed he would go on to star at the Emirates for many years.
However, it never turned out so as Iwobi’s time at the club was full of inconsistent performances, scoring 27 goals and registering 15 assists in 149 appearances for the Gunners.
After four years at the Emirates, Iwobi left North-London- a place that has been his home since he was nine- for Merseyside, signing for Everton on a five-year deal.
While it was a tough decision, the belief was that the Everton move would give him more freedom to express himself on the pitch.
In fairness, the pressure that comes with playing for Arsenal and the number of positions he played might have contributed to his inconsistencies at the club.
Last season was his first year at Everton, but it was more of the same old story. He had a brilliant start, scoring twice in his first three games, but that was his best spell last season.
He cut a peripheral figure in most games much to the anger of the Evertonians. Iwobi played 29 times for Everton last season, scoring just twice and registering only one assist.
It was a bad return for someone that came in for big money. He was duly criticised by fans and was even linked with a move away from the club last summer.
Everton signed James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan to bolster their squad, which led to reports Iwobi could be sold.
However, the 24-year-old stayed at the club and has managed to turn around the corner. After a couple of substitute appearances early in the season, Iwobi has become one of the most important players under Carlo Ancelotti.
Although he has played in multiple roles this campaign including as an unorthodox right-wing back, Iwobi performances have been impressive.
Last night, he opened his account for the season with a well-taken opener in Everton’s 2-1 win at Wolves. Iwobi’s has received criticism for his shot technique throughout his career, but the finish on Wednesday was a perfect strike.
He also scored two brilliant goals in Nigeria’s 4-4 draw against Sierra Leone which shows the former Arsenal has improved in that area.
Iwobi’s all-round play has improved and has been consistent all season. He may not have the goals and assists to back his performance up, but that could be down to his playing positions.
But despite the excellent season he’s having so far, there is still a room for improvement. While he may not have gotten into many scoring positions, he needs to improve on his output.
Iwobi could’ve scored twice in the win against Wolves after he was set up by James, but his effort was easily saved by Rui Patricio.
He’s getting a regular run of games, but he needs to maintain the consistency, which has always been an issue throughout his career.
Iwobi’s versatility means he is always going to be one of Ancelotti’s favourites. The Nigerian international is starting to justify his transfer fee, but more is still needed.