Since the arrival of Unai Emery at Arsenal, Alex Iwobi had enjoyed more playing than ever before, that luxury may, however, be threatened with the North London club hoping to sign Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha before the summer transfer window closes.
The Nigerian and Arsenal winger, Iwobi, however, is said to have sensationally hinted that he may leave the North London club should the Gunners sign Zaha this summer as he has been a target for Emery’s side and already saw a £40m bid rejected and although he admits being a “fighter” who never gives up, the Nigerian who helped the Super Eagles claim an eighth bronze medal finish at the just concluded AFCON said the Ivorian’s arrival could lead to him leaving.
‘’I am not one to chicken out. I have had it all over the years, being told I’m not good enough,” he told The Sun UK.
“So whenever the chance comes I always try and prove I should be starting. But it’s going to be difficult if Zaha comes. He will add more stress. ‘I am up for the fight but the only time I would consider leaving is if I am not playing as much as I would like to. Obviously, my joy is to play football and not just sit out.
‘’If it comes to that I would have no choice but to leave. But I would always put up a fight to play that is what I have done all my life. We have big stars already, so by adding another one I’ll just have to prove I can do better than them.”
‘’Maybe you think: ‘Football is not for you and you don’t want to play any more ,’’ he added.
“But it’s good to have that self-motivation to believe that you can prove your critics wrong. I am here today, so it didn’t affect me. Whenever someone tells me something negative I will just ignore it and try and prove to them that I am better than they think.’’
Iwobi has come up through the ranks at Arsenal and last season he did feature in 35 Premier League games for the club. But surely if Zaha comes to the club, the Nigerian will fall down the pecking order – something which he is not ready to accept.
Emery has obviously made Zaha his top transfer priority this summer and the player himself claimed recently that he wished to move out, but Crystal Palace are holding out for a substantial transfer fee which is out of reach for the Gunners this transfer window.
However, Iwobi claims that his words were twisted after he appeared to say he might have to quit Arsenal.
Zaha would be a direct rival to Iwobi in the Arsenal team and could leave the Nigerian international on the bench.
But Iwobi has now sought to clarify his comments, claiming that he did not mean what he said – and insists that he hopes Arsenal go on to sign top players.
“Fake news and click bait,” he tweeted, alongside a screenshot of the headlines.
“I don’t know why some newspapers enjoy twisting words.
“I hope we sign world-class players at Arsenal and progress as a team. I’m looking forward to the new season.”
Zaha had reportedly told Crystal Palace he wants a move to north London after returning from the African Cup of Nations, although Arsenal could still be priced out of a move as they work with a limited budget.
Iwobi also has increased competition in the form of Reiss Nelson, back from his loan spell at Hoffenheim, and emerging attacker Eddie Nketiah.
Last season, Emery charged Iwobi to be staying nearer to the box so as to continue scoring and laying assists.
“I’m very happy with him and his mentality. He has the quality to play right or left, to do more one-on-ones against the opposition. I want him to stay nearer the box to score and be more aggressive, finding assists for team-mates. This is the way for him and other players,” Emery said
Iwobi’s performances have seen him become a pivotal part of the Arsenal team.
“The manager gave me the confidence to express myself and to believe in my ability, which I have been trying to show. In training, too, he was always letting me try new things – be positive, be direct and prove it in the games. It is working for me so I just have to keep it going.
“Do I feel like a better player than a year ago? I’d just say I am more confident. I feel that even if I make a mistake, I am able to go again. I think that is the difference between me last year and this year.”
Iwobi scored six goals in 51 appearances across all competitions for the Gunners.
He topped his impressive displays by scoring Arsenal’s only goal in their UEFA Europa League final defeat to Chelsea that ended 4-1 but he sees the consolation effort as a motivation to win the European title next season.
“This year, I’ve progressed and I’ve been more composed. It is basically being more efficient in the final third either making the final pass or scoring,” he added.
“There were mixed emotions to score in the (Europa League) final. It is a big achievement but obviously not the result I wanted if I could trade the goal for the result I would.
“It is one of the goals I just have to cherish that would make me hungry to try and win the Europa League next season.”
Iwobi dazzled through opposition’s defence on several occasions with his cheeky move by putting the ball between the legs of defenders.
The Nigerian international earned himself the title of the ‘nutmeg prince’ and he is not ready to share the title with Okocha who is considered as one of the best dribblers during his active days, Goal reports.
“I will take ownership of the nutmeg. My uncle Okocha has got the skills but the nutmeg, the prince title they call me for that, I will say it is my ownership,” Iwobi told the NFF media.
“It happens instinctively, sometimes the easiest way of getting past my opponent. I’ve been given a title and I can’t let my people down.”
Iwobi was not with the Gunners on their U.S. tour as he just returned from the African Cup of Nations.