These are exciting new times at Everton, but not, it appears, for 2019 signing Alex Iwobi, who is increasingly looking bound for the exit door at Goodison Park. Carlo Ancelotti invested in James Rodriguez, Allan, and Abdoulaye Doucoure during the summer, a raft of new arrivals who underpinned the Toffees’ successful start to the Premier League on Sunday as Tottenham Hotspur were defeated 1-0 on Sunday.
- ‘Iwobi should start looking for another club’ – Udeze advises Everton forward
- ‘Without Aubameyang, Arsenal can’t finish in top six’ – Aston Villa legend Agbonlahor wants contract renewal
- Former NPFL goal king Okpotu wins top scorer award in Tunisian Ligue 1
- Victor Moses: What does the season hold?
Ancelotti gave his second-string a run-out, with only Michael Keane retained from the Spurs victory, giving hope to the likes of Theo Walcott and Moise Kean—both omitted from the starting XI against Tottenham—that they remain in his plans. Iwobi, however, despite appearing to be fit and available, didn’t make the matchday squad for a second consecutive game.
It’s a remarkable fall from grace for a player who cost the club £34 million just last summer, but he’s now in danger of finding himself among the Merseysiders’ other outcasts, alongside the likes of Yannick Bolasie, Muhamed Besic, and Sandro Ramirez.
According to the Daily Mirror, he’s one of several fringe players who could be offloaded by Director of Football Marcel Brands as he looks to balance the books. There has been plenty of poor transfer decisions over the last few years at the club, and in the context of some of their other flops—Davy Klaassen, anyone?—the the arrival of Iwobi hasn’t (yet) been an emphatic failure.
Admittedly, he struggled to make his mark last season, registering a risible return of one goal and zero assists, but there were caveats, not least a season of transition and turmoil at Goodison Park.
Marco Silva, the manager who recruited him, was already in the dying throes of his miserable tenure, and Iwobi found himself added to a disjointed team who already appeared to be losing faith in their head coach.
The midfield, unbalanced since the exit of Idrissa Gueye, lacked control, destabilizing the whole side, and the horrific November injury to Andre Gomes was yet another blow to an already troubled area of the side.
The arrivals of Allan and Doucoure threaten to solve a problem area, which could have meant an upturn in fortunes for Iwobi, so often feeding off scraps last season, but the arrival of James from Real Madrid—and a piece of accompanying shift information—threatens to reduce him to irrelevance.
Everton’s own malaise exacerbated some of the issues Iwobi had already endured at Arsenal, where he had sometimes struggled to find his place in the team under Unai Emery. No one could question his fitness, work rate, or movement, but what exactly had Iwobi been signed to contribute? He doesn’t have the pace of a winger, doesn’t have the creativity of a No. 10…what exactly was his purpose?
“Iwobi doesn’t do it for me,” former England and Spurs striker Darren Bent told Football Insider. “His end product’s not good enough, he doesn’t score enough goals, doesn’t create enough goals so he’s not really doing anything.” Damning words, but few Everton fans would disagree at this stage. Still only 24, it’s too early to write the Super Eagles star off just yet, although confidence is fading that his future will be at Goodison.
Were he to depart Arsenal before the arrival of Mikel Arteta, and exit Everton soon after the arrival of Ancelotti, it would be particularly bad luck—or confirmation that too much had been expected of Iwobi early on.
While it’s easy to say he needs a fresh start—a move to Crystal Palace has been mooted—would a switch to playing alongside ‘lesser’ players expose Iwobi’s own limitations, which were perhaps masked at the Emirates Stadium.
The likes of Bolasie, Besic, Sandro, and Cenk Tosun; and even Bernard, Sigurdsson, Kean, and Fabian Delph face uncertain futures under Ancelotti. Will Iwobi also become part of the mass exodus that increasingly appears imminent at Goodison Park?