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Okocha: Why Iwobi Was Poor At Everton Last Year

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The Nigerian international made a shock move from the Gunners to the Toffees in 2019 and never really made the impact expected of him in his first season

Nigerian legend Austin Okocha has suggested that Arsenal forced Alex Iwobi out of the club, insisting that Everton didn’t see the best of his nephew last term because the younger Nigerian didn’t get over that unfair treatment.

Iwobi had been with the Gunners since age eight, gradually impressing through the different youth teams before making his senior team debut in a League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in 2015.

But after 11 years and 100 Premier League appearances for the North London side, Iwobi was compelled to depart the Emirates for Goodison Park in a £34 million deal in 2019.

It came as a shock to many as the Super Eagles playmaker had scored in Europa League final for the Gunners and had powered Nigeria to a third-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations weeks earlier.

With just a goal and no assist across 25 appearances for the Toffees, Iwobi struggled to make a positive impression during his first season on Merseyside.

1994 Afcon champion Okocha has lifted the lid on the intrigues behind that move, maintaining that the 24-year-old had little say in negotiations and hinting that it affected his performance in the pitch.

“I must confess that the move from Arsenal to Everton wasn’t an easy one from him,” Okocha told Goal.

“He wasn’t expecting it, it just happened.

“He got a call that there’s a deal for him and that he must oblige that deal, which wasn’t easy for a young player who has played all his life at Arsenal.

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“I think that must have taken him 12 months to get over, so he didn’t have the best season last year with Everton.”

Iwobi, despite some inconsistent displays, has been more productive for Carlo Ancelotti this campaign, and Okocha says the youngster’s improvement is pleasing.

“I’m glad with his progress so far,” Okocha noted, “because I always believed that there’s room for improvement, and luckily for all of us, he’s a good lad, he listens.”

Iwobi’s immediate concerns will be trained on helping the Toffees overcome Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

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