When Everton signed Alex Iwobi from Arsenal for around £35 million back in August 2019, a few eyebrows were raised throughout the football world. Although the Nigerian had shown promise at the Emirates, he hadn’t proved that he was worth the Toffees making him one of their most expensive purchases in the club’s history. However, where Marco Silva appeared to fail, Carlo Ancelotti is succeeding in getting the best out of Iwobi. So, here’s how the 24-year-old is repaying his manager’s faith.
Pressure from Everton Supporters and His Home County
Initially, Everton had a £30 million offer rejected by Arsenal for Iwobi, although that did not deter them in their quest to sign the attacker. After securing his signature, Silva declared that the Nigerian had been a primary target because of his direct running and quick feet. On paper, the transfer appeared to be sensible one for the Merseyside club, who watched the 24-year-old score three times and chip in with ten assists across 35 matches for the Gunners in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.
Prior to Victor Osimhen’s move from Lille to Napoli the following summer, Iwobi’s switch to Goodison Park saw him become the most expensive Nigerian of all time. With that, he took on pressure from his home country, as well as the Everton faithful. His transfer will have been closely followed back home and the variety of bookmakers available, as detailed on SBO.net, mean that fans can back the Toffees if they are expecting him to be successful there. Because platforms like 22bet and Betwinner host markets related to the English top-flight division, prospective bettors can explore an array of in-game and outright opportunities. Moreover, as the Nigerian gambling industry has a football-orientated focus, European competitions are also popular among consumers. Should Everton qualify for either the Champions League or Europa League come the end of the 2020-21 season, Iwobi may find himself under pressure.
There’s More to Come from Him
In 25 Premier League appearances for the Toffees during the 2019-20 season, Iwobi scored just one goal, which came in a 3-2 win over Wolves. After Silva departed the club and the three-time Champions League-winning manager arrived, the Nigerian’s form gradually improved. Perhaps one of the reasons for this relates to familiarity. In an interview with talkSPORT, he stated that playing for Ancelotti is very similar to his time at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.
Due to injuries, Iwobi received further first-team opportunities in 2020-21, and he’s thus far made them pay. According to the Liverpool Echo, he ranked second – behind James Rodriguez – out the Everton squad regarding shot-creating actions per 90 minutes. Impressively, he’s done so having played in various positions, including as a wing-back.
Having been switched to the left flank, Ancelotti has praised the Nigerian’s recent link-up play with Lucas Digne, which proved instrumental in their 2-1 win at Molineux on January 12th, 2020. The fixture saw the 24-year-old score his first goal of the season, and, based on current form, it could be the first of many.
Slowly but Surely, Iwobi is Proving his Worth
Over the years, Iwobi has promised to reach the top of the sport both at club and international level. Having learned from Wenger during his breakthrough phase, Ancelotti is now the perfect coach to harness his existing skillset and mould him into a consistent top-level player. The onus is now on the 24-year-old to step up to the plate, deliver, and fire Everton into a European spot.