The midfielder is one of Nigeria’s most prominent stars in the English Premier League
Super Eagles midfielder Alex Iwobi has revealed how he was encouraged to leave Arsenal and join Everton in the summer of 2019.
The Nigerian international had been a part of Arsenal’s academy since he was eight years old and went through the youth teams before making his first-team debut under Arsene Wenger.
Iwobi played 51 games for the Gunners in Unai Emery’s only full season in charge of the club. However, that was his final campaign in north London before his move to Everton.
Arsenal had signed Nicolas Pepe for a fee of £72 million that summer, and Iwobi was told that accepting Everton’s bid, which was believed to be around £34 million with add-ons, was likely the best decision for all parties involved.
What was said?
In an interview with The Beautiful Game podcast (as per The Standard), Iwobi spoke about how Arsenal nudged him to leave the club. He said, “My last game was the Europa League final, and he (Unai Emery) told me, ‘It’s a shame I didn’t start you; I want you here next season.’ So then, from the first day to the last day, Everton pushed and pushed and pushed. And Arsenal just signed a new winger, and there were a few players that were still there; they weren’t ready to [leave].”
He added, “They said, ‘We’ve received a bid for you; it’s a high bid; we’re not going to get this money from anywhere else.’ It was a nudge. ‘It’s a winger as well that’s probably going to play in your position. It’s up to you’. They’ve given me that, and Everton’s a club that’s also a very big club that wants me. I want a new challenge, so why not pursue it?”
After struggling for a few years, Iwobi has become an important player for Everton this season. He has made 57 appearances in all competitions for the Toffees, scoring seven goals.
Alex has also been a key player for Nigeria and was instrumental in their recent AFCON qualifiers, scoring two goals and providing two assists in four games.
With his talent and experience, Iwobi is expected to play a crucial role in Everton’s bid for survival in the Premier League.