Alex Iwobi has explained why he decided to leave Arsenal, with the signing of Nicolas Pepe effectively nudging him out of the door.
Former Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi has been a regular for Everton this season, starting all 28 Premier League games as well as appearing three times in the domestic cup competitions.
Everton fans will feel they’re now seeing a return on their investment in Iwobi, who was an expensive acquisition for them in 2019.
Reflecting on that move and his decision to leave the club he was brought up in as an academy player, Iwobi suggests it initially looked like he’d stay, with Unai Emery giving him positive feedback.
But things changed as the summer went on, leading to his eventual departure.
“My last game was the Europa League final,” Iwobi recalled. “And he (Emery) said to 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 (Pepe)…and there were a few players that were still there, they weren’t ready to [leave].
“[Arsenal] 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?”
It’s probably fair to say things didn’t initially go to plan for Iwobi at Everton. He was always a regular in the team, but his goal contributions dropped off despite his advanced role in the side.
Funnily enough, moving Iwobi back into midfield actually resulted in an upturn in those goal contributions, and his eight assists this campaign (seven in the league) have him up there with the division’s top creators.
But on a team level, Everton sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, three points clear of the bottom of the table, having played more games than all but one of the five teams below them.
It’s going to be another tense end to the campaign for Iwobi and co.