Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta, has hailed the emergence of Arsenal teenager Alex Iwobi though the Spaniard believes the young Nigeria international needs to still improve on his game.
The 19-year-old who has been capped by Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh has become a permanent fixture on the Gunners’ first-team bench in recent weeks, earning a place in 10 of the last 11 match-day squads, and making seven appearances in total.
Iwobi who on Thursday claimed to be working hard on his game in a bid to be better than his uncle and former Bolton Wanderers and Super Eagles captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, can play on either flank, as a centre-forward or in central midfield and is in line to start Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round match against Burnley at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, at 4pm Nigerian time.
Arteta, who could also be involved this weekend, believes the Nigerian-born teenager need to fine-tune his talents to guarantee a career at the highest level.
“Iwobi has been doing really well for us lately,” Standard.co.uk quotes Arteta as saying. “I played with him in the Under-21s recently and I was surprised he could play in central midfield as well.
“He is versatile and that is a massive attribute because forwards don’t normally have that 360 degree vision you need in midfield. Alex is capable of reading the game well, understanding his positioning and his body shape when he plays.
"Technically, he is a brilliant player, he works hard, though sometimes being versatile can also work against you in the future because you want consistency in one position. At the moment though, he is a very good team player.
Arteta points to the confidence and maturity noticeable in the game of the Nigerian of late, especially in the game against Stoke City as a reminder of what is yet to be seen of the youngster.
“You can see the change in his confidence after being given some minutes in the first team. The Stoke game was a good example of that. He came on and had an impact on the game straight away.
"His decision-making was excellent and the game didn’t run quicker than him. To do that against a tough team in a difficult atmosphere tells you he is improving and moving forwards and it is important for his development," Arteta posited.