'Iwobi is a star at Arsenal' - Kanu calls on fellow Nigerian to believe in himself

Alex Iwobi Nigeria 2018
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The former Gunners striker has called on his countryman to become a leader at club level and acknowledge that he is deserving of such a standing

Alex Iwobi has been told by Nwankwo Kanu that he is a “star in his own right” and needs to embrace such a standing at Arsenal.

The 22-year-old is a product of a famed academy system in north London, having linked up with the Gunners as a schoolboy.

He has graduated through the ranks to make 98 senior appearances, but is yet to show his full potential on a consistent basis at club level.

Iwobi has no such problems when representing his country, having become a talismanic presence for Nigeria, and his fellow countryman wants to see him fill a similar role domestically.

Former Arsenal striker Kanu told Standard Sport: “In Arsenal you have big, big names. I don’t think he sees himself in that way. 

“When I talk with him I want him to feel that way. Just because you’re younger than the other players doesn’t mean you’re not a star. He’s a star in his own right.

“When he comes to Nigeria he feels the pressure: he’s Iwobi, he needs to deliver. With Arsenal he thinks ‘ok, there’s other names here, no problem’. He needs to change that."

Iwobi has managed just nine goals for the Gunners to date, with that lack of end product having sparked exit talk at regular intervals.

Kanu is, however, convinced that the talented forward can prove to be a useful asset for Unai Emery and Arsenal - with a new contract already in the pipeline.

He added: “For me he’s a special kid.

“Arsenal know the quality he has got and they know he can deliver on that eventually. 

“He didn’t just become a bad player overnight. If the team isn’t doing well it affects everybody. He’s a talented player who’ll do more and do better for Arsenal.” 

While Iwobi remains on the books at Emirates Stadium for 2018-19, he does face fierce competition for places from the likes of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

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“You have to believe in your quality first of all. You have to know your strengths and tell yourself you’re the best,” said Kanu, who made 197 appearances for Arsenal between 1999 and 2004.

“At times I didn’t play but I was still the best - that’s how I saw it. If I get 15, 20 minutes I will do what I have to do and make an impact.

“Iwobi needs to be convinced he can be in the team and if the coach thinks otherwise he has to fight to convince him he should be.”