Exclusive: Arsenal ‘obliged’ Iwobi to quit the club for Everton – Okocha

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Goal

Alex Iwobi was ‘obliged’ to leave Arsenal in 2019 to sign for Everton, according to his uncle and Super Eagles Jay-Jay Okocha, suggesting the Gunners gave the midfielder no choice but to heart-wrenchingly quit his boyhood club in 2019.

Speaking to Goal, the ex-Nigeria playmaker has lifted the lid on Iwobi’s shock move from the Emirates Stadium to Goodison Park ahead of last season, and believes the surprise nature of the transfer was to blame for his slow start to life in Liverpool.

Iwobi had been at Arsenal for 15 years before his £34 million exit which, according to Okocha, the 24-year-old was unable to refuse.

“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.

“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 struggled to make a positive impression during his first season on Merseyside, scoring once and failing to register a single assist across 25 appearances for the Toffees.

Things have improved under Carlo Ancelotti this term, even if Iwobi has had difficulties holding down a consistent first-team place, although he’s yet to truly realise the potential of his youth.

“You can see that now he’s a bit more comfortable,” Okocha continued. “He has finally realised that Liverpool is his home now.

“I think that without any doubt we will see an improved and better Alex Iwobi now.”

Lagos-born Iwobi spent 11 years in the Arsenal academy before making his debut for the North London heavyweights in a League Cup defeat by Sheffield Wednesday in 2015.

He was involved in the Gunners’ first team for four seasons, making 100 Premier League appearances, before being compelled to leave for the School of Science.

“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.

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“[However], some of the advice I gave to him has to stay in the family!”

Iwobi has appeared in 25 league games for Everton so far this term as they’ve pushed for an unlikely Champions League qualification.

After 28 matches, they sit seventh, five points behind Chelsea who currently occupy fourth. The Toffees face Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend.