Alex Iwobi has undergone an impressive transformation in his Everton career, with Frank Lampard’s decision to make him a central midfielder seriously paying off.
The Nigeria international, who signed in a deal worth £35m from Arsenal in 2019, struggled in his first few years at Goodison Park and has contributed just seven goals and nine assists in 104 appearances for the Toffees.
He found life so difficult that after one game he was dubbed “embarrassing” by reporter David Prentice, who was rather damning of his performance level.
However, the £50k-per-week earner’s displays have drastically improved since Lampard came in and turned him into a central midfielder rather than a winger, as is evidenced by his stats from WhoScored.
Last season saw the 26-year-old average a less than impressive 6.58 rating for his performances as he only managed four goal involvements, while in six Premier League starts this season he has a 6.74 rating.
He has also averaged more key passes per game (1.8 vs 1.3), passes per game (40.7 vs 24.5) and a better pass accuracy percentage (82 vs 79.6) than last season, which suggests that he is far more involved and consistent in possession so far this campaign.
Only last year under Rafa Benitez, Michael Ball wrote this of Iwobi: “He just seems to do the basics all wrong.
“He’s got all the skills so he might stand out in training – that’s probably why he got the nod over [Anthony] Gordon – but on an eleven-a-side pitch in a full game, he seems to lack confidence doing the basics.”
However, he is clearly a much more confident player now he is getting regular football in the middle of the park for Everton, and emphasised this with a superb display in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at the weekend.
Frank Lebouef said: “What I saw from Iwobi in the middle of the park was absolutely exceptional. That guy was replaced in another position but he was still outstanding.”
Iwobi already has two assists to his name in all competitions this season, which is the same as his tally from 2021/22, which suggests that he could have a much more impressive term when it comes to goals and assists.
The fact that Lampard has added Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and James Garner to his midfield this summer, and yet Iwobi feels undroppable, goes to show how much his position change has turned him from zero to hero at Goodison Park.