This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
149 games. 15 goals. 23 assists. Since breaking into the Arsenal first-team, Alex Iwobi didn’t necessarily set the world alight in his time at the Emirates. The Nigeria international had come through the Gunners academy and there was understandably an element of goodwill there, but his numbers never really stacked up to some of the more illustrious names in the Premier League.
Unai Emery revealed that following discussions with his left-backs over who they preferred playing with on the flank, Iwobi was the man they all unanimously pointed to. But in a team attempting to compete for titles both domestically and abroad, to not even break past the five-goal mark in the Premier League as one of the side’s attacking players is nothing short of an abject failure.
So for the Gunners to fleece Everton out of a reported £34m for the 23-year-old is excellent business. And perhaps even more so than the financial element of the deal, it smacks of a ruthlessness the north London side have been needing for so long. Getting rid of players who simply didn’t perform at a high enough level and not constantly handing them chance after chance to redeem themselves.
It was common knowledge Arsenal wanted a new winger for the season and they duly got one with the arrival of Lille star Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international’s arrival upgraded the Gunners’ attack no-end, and perhaps added a sense of perspective on the lack of progress Iwobi had made since his breakthrough into the senior side in the 2015/2016 season.
Losing one of the club’s academy products is always a difficult thing to do, but the Gunners’ ruthlessness in shipping Iwobi out on deadline day is a refreshing act of brutal honesty and decision-making.