Arsenal’s new manager, Unai Emery has expressed satisfaction with the decision by The Gunners’ attacker, Alex Iwobi to agree terms of an extended five-year-contract with the London club, as the gaffer believes the Super Eagles star is key to his plans this season.
Emery is in his first month fully in charge of The Gunners’ squad, with which he lost his first pre-season match 3-1 to Atletico Madrid of Spain, via penalties shootout, after a 1-1 end to regulation time, and the former PSG gaffer appears to have strong prospects for Iwobi.
However, this comes at a point analysts have come out with permutations that Iwobi is set for a make-or-break season, as he bids to establish himself as a regular in the Arsenal first team.
The Lagos-born 22-year-old is one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Arsenal’s youth set up in the past decade, and was their under-21 team captain before stepping up.
He earned rave reviews in his first campaign in the first team, but struggled for form last year as Arsenal finished sixth in the Premiership.
Competition for places is stiff at The Emirates, but the club believe in Iwobi’s potentials, hence their decision to reward him with a new £70,000-a-week, five-year deal.
Emery has several options at his disposal, and Iwobi will have to step up his efforts in training to remain in the team’s core.
This is sequel to observations that Arsenal record signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on fire towards the end of last season, and he should be guaranteed a starting berth.
If Emery wants Alexandre Lacazette on the pitch as well, Aubameyang will likely have to be shunted out wide, which leaves fewer options for Iwobi.
Mesut Ozil is top dog at The Emirates after signing a £350,000-a-week deal in January, and he too is likely to be guaranteed a starting place.
There is also Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez vying for a chance in the starting 11, along with other young prospects like Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson.
Emery is expected to favour a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, leaving room for only a few attackers, and Iwobi is by no means an automatic starter.
While welcoming Iwobi back to the club, after an extended break to recover from the World Cup, Emery said he is happy to learn that the attacker is not leaving Emirates Stadium this summer, despite fervid interest in him from SS Lazio of Italy and Everton.
“Mesut, Elneny and Iwobi are working with us – my first impression is very good. I have the information, he is near. My information is he will sign to stay with us,” said Emery, who is preparing the Gunners for their friendly with Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.