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In profile: Alex Iwobi

Written by Jack Stroudley on 1st September 2023

Jack Stroudley looks at our first (of hopefully many) deadline signings.

Transfer deadline day to Tony Khan is what Christmas is to Michael Buble, he comes out of hibernation to try and do some wheeler-dealing and with Palhinha to Bayern Munich looking likely, he’s certainly got his work cut out. The first name through the door looks to be Alex Iwobi from Everton for a reported fee of £22m + add-ons. We know that we’re in desperate need of bodies in multiple positions, but is Iwobi the right fit or a panic buy?

The fact file

Alex Iwobi started his youth career at Arsenal back in 2004 and rose through the ranks before making his first team debut for the club in 2015 during a 3-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. Over the course of his four-season spell at Arsenal he was a pivotal member of the club making 149 appearances and during that time he scored 15 goals in all competitions.

The Nigerian international’s lengthy spell at the club caught the attention of Everton who signed him for £28m back in 2019. Iwobi started his time at Everton predominately on the left looking to cut inside and score chances. He struggled to become a clinical threat for the Toffees and was eventually moved into central midfield where he’d become more of a creator from deep. Iwobi played under Marco Silva at Everton and during his time on Merseyside he has featured 140 times scoring nine goals.

A deeper dive

As mentioned, Iwobi is someone who can play at either left-wing or in central midfield so is someone that Silva will have drawn his attention to due to his ability to be versatile. Iwobi’s best position seems to be in central midfield due to his ability to carry the ball. The 27-year-old averages 2.7 progressive carries per 90 (in the top 11% for midfielders) as well as 1.55 successful take-ons (top 9%) and 3.46 shot-creating actions (top 16%). All of these stats translate into assists with Iwobi averaging 0.18 (top 15%).

Going off of this, Iwobi is likely to be fielded in the number ‘8’ role and may drift forward into the ‘10’ when Pereira is unavailable and compared to the likes of Reed and Lukic is slightly more advanced with Reed only averaging 0.94 progressive carries and Lukic 1.72 compared to Iwobi’s 2.7. On the flip side, Reed and Lukic provide more defensive stability so if Iwobi is to sign, who starts in midfield (alongside hopefully a Palhinha replacement) will dependant on the strengths of the opposition.

The final verdict

I’m really struggling to get excited about this, £22m for a player with one-year left on his contract who hasn’t really worked out his best position is bizarre to me. Marco Silva likes a versatile player but we could’ve signed Hudson-Odoi for £5m and Gustavo Hamer for £15m who are both better players and still had some money left over! Iwobi knows the Premier League and at 27 he is coming into his peak years and while I hope he proves me wrong; this feels like a massive panic buy.

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