Nigeria and DC Congo might feel a little bit put out today after both Arsene Wenger and Eddie Howe both advised Alex Iwobi and Benik Afobe, respectively, to pick England ahead of Nigeria and DC Congo.
Both players, products of Arsenal’s youth academy, are eligible to play for both countries but instead of waiting for a call from England that might never come, they are considering choosing their second countries.
“I think he’s one England have missed because he plays for Nigeria now,” Wenger told the Guardian. “He should play for England. I don’t think he has played in a competitive game for Nigeria.
“I remember I turned him down for an U-23 tournament. But then Nigeria called him up for the first team to force him to go.
“I think he has shown everybody that he is a good football player, again. I find him personally very interesting.
“His decision-making is spot on and his awareness is very interesting,” Wenger added.
“He’s a boy who, two years ago, not many would have said: ‘This will be.’ He develops very well. He’s very clever.
“I like the timing and the quality of his decision-making. He always turns where you want him to turn and he plays the ball where you want him to play the ball.
“He’s very interesting.”
Afobe, who signed for Bournemouth during the winter transfer window, perhaps feels that he needs to make a decision sooner rather than later given that he is four years older than Iwobi. But even at 23, Howe will be advising Afobe’s on what he should do. Afobe qualifies for DC Congo through his parents.
“It is early for him at Premier League level and a lot is going to change after the next tournament,” Howe told the PFA.
“If I was him, and I will be speaking to him, I would say give England your very best and (have the) opportunity to play for this country.
“I don’t know his feelings or thoughts on it, I read it just like you did, but I haven’t spoken to him about it.
“I will be (speaking to him) to lend my advice and thoughts.
“He is still very young which I think is the key thing here. I think if he was 27, 28-years-old I could understand why he would look elsewhere but he is still very young and he has a lot of good years ahead of him.”