On transfer deadline day, Arsenal allowed academy graduate Alex Iwobi to join Everton in a £34 million deal. The move brought an end to Iwobi’s 15-year-stay with the north London club.
The 23-year-old attacker joined the Gunners as a primary school student in 2004. He made his first team debut in 2015, against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. The Nigerian bagged his first goal for the club in the Premier League against Everton later that season. He featured more regularly in the following campaign, which ended with an FA Cup triumph.
Iwobi has left the Emirates Stadium having made 149 first team appearances for the club, scoring 15 goals and registering 23 assists in that time.
Unai Emery showed a lot of faith in the 36-cap Nigeria international last season, and would probably have used him regularly in the coming campaign too. However, the Toffees made an offer too good to refuse. However, Iwobi’s exit has left Emery’s squad a little short of wide options, despite the signing of Nicolas Pepe.
The Spanish coach may now offer more game time to young prospects such as Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka. Iwobi’s departure probably also ensures Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s future at the Emirates Stadium.
The Armenian has been a disappointing flop since his January 2018 switch from Manchester United. However, his £180,000-per-week wage packet, according to Spotrac’s figures, make the 30-year-old a difficult player for Arsenal to attract suitors for.
It would probably have been Arsenal’s preference to sell Mkhitaryan rather than Iwobi this summer. However, Everton forced their hand with an attractive offer. A consequence of this, though, is that Mkhitaryan now commands a more important position in Emery’s squad than is ideal. With Iwobi gone, there are no longer enough experienced, senior wingers to allow for the exit of Mkhitaryan.