Alex Iwobi adjudged as a failure, as one of the worst signings of the Farhad Moshiri era, is turning it around and winning praise from all factions of Everton supporters. Iwobi’s reincarnation under Frank Lampard is one of the stories of the year.
Constant criticism, questioning Everton’s transfer strategy, and bewilderment over Iwobi’s performances had become the norm since the Nigerian joined the Toffees in 2019. An impressive and eye-catching performance over the course of the season was like finding a needle in the haystack.
Until this summer, most of the Everton faithful would have been open to let Iwobi leave and cut their losses. He played in various positions but never seemed to have clicked in any role. Iwobi was tossed from out wide positions in a front three to playing wide in the midfield four. The former Arsenal man also played as a right wing back and even as a left back when injuries piled up.
Under Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez, Iwobi remained in the lineup but was never the most trusted player, not the player you’d look up to when the game took a wrong turn. The Nigerian was often considered as a player with high creative ceiling but remained anonymous in the middle of the pitch when it came to creating goalscoring chances.
Alex Iwobi version 2.0 for Everton
Since the arrival of Frank Lampard, Iwobi is on the road to resurgence, even more so since the start of the 2022-23 season. Iwobi has never been a conventional winger; he has looked at home when playing as a central midfielder.
Iwobi was deployed in the number six role earlier this season and he did not disappoint. Comfortable in possession and rotating the ball around, Iwobi thrived in the central role. Even when pressed by the opposition, he was able to break the press or remain calm in possession.
Iwobi not only offers creativity but through his non-stop running, has been omnipresent in the middle of the park. The redefined role has given birth to a new version of Iwobi: composed, creative genius and the heartbeat of the team.
The Nigerian’s numbers speak for his resurgence. He is Everton’s best player in the following metrics: shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, passes into the final third, assists, successful pressures, carries, successful dribbles. Iwobi has been Everton’s best player by light years.
The very people who questioned the price tag of £28 million for Iwobi are now singing songs about his excellent performances. It was an Iwobi masterclass against Crystal Palace. The 26 year old sprinkled his creative magic, assisting two goals and spraying forward passes throughout the game. Iwobi had 53 touches, 3 key passes, 87% pass success rate, created 2 big chances, 13 final third passes and had two successful long balls. Defensively too, the former Arsenal man had a 100% tackle success rate and four ball recoveries.
Iwobi Express is now in the sixth gear and seems unstoppable. He keeps on excelling and gets better with each performance, arguably being Everton’s best player so far. Iwobi must continue to play in this position if Everton are to extract the maximum juice out of his talent and skills.
How soon will Everton renew Alex Iwobi?