With 24 hours to go until Everton face Southampton, manager Carlo Ancelotti has given his strongest hint that Alex Iwobi will replace the suspended Richarlison.
Iwobi is probably the obvious choice to replace the Brazilian but now the Everton boss has all but confirmed he will be starting tomorrow lunchtime.
If this is the case then it’s big opportunity for the ex-Arsenal man to stake a claim for a regular place in the Italian’s team.
The Nigerian international has been a severe disappointment since he moved from the Gunners on transfer deadline day last summer. In fact that would be an understatement.
Iwobi cost the Toffees around £30 million, which was an awful lot of money for a still relatively unproven player who had not nailed down a guaranteed starting place at Arsenal.
It always seemed like a last minute panic buy after the Blues had failed in their attempts to secure Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
The 23-year-old winger is a player with qualities, albeit sometimes hard to see! He does possess pace, power and the ability to run with ball, take on and beat an opponent.
To often though he hasn’t shown the drive, conviction or consistency to do so effectively. And too many times his final ball simply hasn’t been good enough. In addition, Iwobi is sometimes entirely anonymous in games and doesn’t score enough goals for a forward player.
I’ve been wavering in my feelings as to whether Iwobi is a footballer who can become a top player and deliver for Everton, as he has so often been a disappointment. But in the end I thought on balance he might still be worth persevering with.
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It was also touch and go as to whether he would be sold or go out on loan this summer, but in the end no moves materialised and he’s still an Everton player.
Iwobi has though been better this season when he’s had the chance to play in the Carabao Cup games, as have several other players who were under pressure going into this campaign. He’s also had some minutes in the Premier League too.
Well now he gets another chance to show that he can play a positive, constructive role in Ancelotti’s new-look Toffees team from the start and help the side maintain the excellent start to the season they have enjoyed so far.
It’s a tall order to replace the Blues outstanding Brazilian forward, a player who is growing in stature all the time and who has become a genuinly outstanding attacker.
But if Iwobi can show the sort of improved form and effort he has done so far this season, then he just might enable Everton to successfully get through the next few weeks without Richarlison.