Alex Iwobi has revealed that he turned down a move to Celtic in 2012 because he didn’t feel ready to move to Scotland after Arsenal made it clear he could leave the club if he wanted.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal keeps the ball in during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on November 11, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 11: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal keeps the ball in during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Emirates Stadium on November 11, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Alex Iwobi has always been Arsene Wenger’s darling. That’s the narrative, at least. The Frenchman brought Iwobi into the first team in 2015 and stuck by the Nigerian even when his form dropped significantly.

What is surprising to learn, then, is that the club were more than prepared to let him leave when he was 16, three years before he made his debut.

“My situation was weird,” Iwobi told Arsenal’s matchday programme. “There was three of us at the time and we were basically told ‘stay if you want, or if not you are free to go.

“It was up to me and at that moment I went to the Crystal Palace training ground to see them.

“I had offers from Celtic and Southampton as well. Celtic was the main one but I wasn’t ready to go to Scotland. I thought it was best to stay at Arsenal but I have to say it felt weird.

“I was playing for England but I felt maybe I wasn’t rated. My England team-mates and everyone else was getting in my ear saying that Arsenal don’t love me because they weren’t offering me a deal.

“It was hard especially because at school as well everyone was talking about it.”

At times this season, Iwobi has shown flashes of the talent we all know is in there but as he came on as a second-half sub against Huddersfield on Saturday I couldn’t help but feel there’s something a little bit ‘Walcotty’ with Iwobi – a player brimming with talent who will never quite put it altogether to become the player we all want him to be.

Hopefully, I’m wrong.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.