Alex Iwobi Explains Arsenal Exit: 'I Always Had That Youngster Tag'

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - MAY 28: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal looks on during the training session of Arsenal prior to the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on May 28, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Alex Iwobi has said one of the key reasons he opted to leave Arsenal and join Everton was to throw off the "youngster tag" he had at the Emirates Stadium.

The 23-year-old has been at Arsenal since 2004 and made his senior debut in 2015. Over the last four full seasons, he has made 100 appearances in the Premier League for the Gunners. 

B/R Football @brfootball

BREAKING: Everton announce the signing of Nigeria international Alex Iwobi from Arsenal 🇳🇬 https://t.co/jDy4dgvCF8

But he failed to ever nail down a guaranteed starting spot, and following the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille—another attacker likely to restrict Iwobi's game time—the Nigeria international opted to leave north London. 

Everton paid £34 million to sign him last week, and Iwobi said the promise of first-team action under manager Marco Silva was a key factor in his decision to move to Goodison Park, per Simon Collings of the Evening Standard:

"The offer was too attractive for me to turn down. The manager was telling me: 'There is a spot for you, we will take care of you.' Basically, all the things you want to hear as a player.

"He has given me the confidence I will do well. I am ready for a new challenge and chapter in my life. I always had that youngster tag at Arsenal, so hopefully, with this move, I am able to make a name for myself in the Premier League and create history with Everton.

"Hopefully I will be able to take on a bit more responsibility and add something to the team as well."

Iwobi enjoyed his best season in 2018-19 as he made 35 appearances in the Premier League—13 as a substitute—netting three goals and providing six assists.

In the Premier League offseason, he played a key role as Nigeria came third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, which finished less than a month ago.

He was not in the squad for the Toffees' opening game of the 2019-20 Premier League season—a 0-0 away draw with Crystal Palace—but he should be in contention for Saturday's visit of Watford to Goodison Park.

Everton spent big in the summer transfer window. Along with Iwobi, forward Moise Kean was arguably the most exciting new addition, and the pair could potentially form a fine partnership in attack:

Tim Stillman @Stillberto

Iwobi is great at moving the ball from the middle third to the final third, but not so great at finishing moves off. That is very valuable when you've players in the final third who need that service and less valuable when the onus is on Iwobi to provide the final part himself.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have lost a long-term servant of the club.

But given Iwobi never managed to become an indispensable part of the side, there are likely few Gunners fans who will begrudge him his move away and the new opportunities it will likely offer.