The Athletic’s Everton correspondent Patrick Boyland says he sees a lot of former Toffees star Steven Pienaar in winger Alex Iwobi, in the latest Gwlad Tidings podcast (March 13).
Well, during a Q&A section on the podcast, Boyland and colleague Greg O’Keeffe were asked about the summer addition, who is yet to really make his mark following his move to Goodison Park from Arsenal.
The journalist said (42:22): “I think he’s been one of the biggest fall guys from the change of formation. Because in a 4-2-3-1, I think he’s best as a No.10. With a 4-4-2 not having a No.10, you couldn’t see him in one of the two central midfield roles. I don’t think he’s disciplined enough, or strong enough as a central midfielder. He kind of has to go in one of the wide positions.”
He added: “I think he’s got a role in this current Everton side, but maybe the formation doesn’t do him a whole heap of favours, particularly if he has to play an inverted role from the right. I don’t think that suits him. His continuity play reminds me a lot of Steven Pienaar, not that good yet obviously. But he reminds me a lot of Steven Pienaar.”
Well, Pienaar scored 26 goals and provided a further 49 assists in 229 appearances for Everton, and Iwobi has some work to do if he wants to match or better those numbers.
The next challenge for him is to undoubtedly find out where he fits into an Ancelotti team, and that may well mean having to adapt or perhaps play in a role that might not be his favourite if he is to be an Everton success.
Injuries have meant that he hasn’t had a consistent run in the starting XI under either Marco Silva or his Italian successor to date, and his return of two goals and one assist in 22 appearances in all competitions hardly stands out either given he cost £34m.
At 23 years of age he still has plenty of time to improve though, and now he must show his manager on the training pitch that he can make a big difference week in, week out for the Toffees, otherwise he will have to be considered as another flop – alongside the likes of Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez and Cenk Tosun – signed in recent years by the Merseyside outfit.
In other Everton news, one Toffees youngster could be Carlo Ancelotti’s next Kalidou Koulibaly at Goodison Park…