Former Arsenal winger, Alex Iwobi has revealed that he believes his formed club ‘nudged’ him towards the exit at the Emirates ahead of his move to Everton in 2019.
The Nigerian international joined the Arsenal youth academy in 2004 before breaking into the first team in 2015. However, his career was cut short when he decided to join Everton after signing a deal reportedly worth up to £34million with potential add-ons.
Speaking to The Beautiful Game podcast, the 26-year-old said: ‘My last game was the Europa League final and he [Unai Emery] said to me, “It’s a shame I didn’t start you, I want you here next season”,’ the midfielder began.
‘So then, from the first day to the last day, Everton pushed and pushed and pushed.
‘And Arsenal just signed a new winger [Nicolas Pepe]… and there were a few players that were still there, they weren’t ready to [leave].
‘[Arsenal] said, “We’ve received a bid for you, it’s a high bid, we’re not going to get this money from anywhere else”.
‘It was a nudge, “it’s a winger as well, that’s probably going to play in your position. It’s up to you”.’
Iwobi scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 4-1 Europa League final thrashing by Chelsea, in what turned out to be his final performance for Emery’s side.
Pepe’s move to north London was announced on August 1, with the French international becoming the club’s record signing with his £72million price tag.
Upon hearing about Arsenal’s signing of Pepe and amidst Everton’s persistent interest, Iwobi spent time considering his next move.
‘They’ve given me that, and Everton’s a club that’s also a very big club that wants me. I want a new challenge, so why not pursue it?’
Gradually, the player has found his footing at Everton, and this season has proven a pivotal player in the team’s fightback as they look to avoid relegation.