At 22-years-old, Alex Iwobi is at an interesting juncture in his career. It is rarely remarked upon in the media, but his age is a critical one faced by young players. Sure, there are always exceptions, with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi having a smooth run from teenage sensation to adult star, but generally the early 20s can make or break a career.
Iwobi will start the 2018/19 season knowing that he has a fight on his hands to get a regular place in the Arsenal team. He has been in and out of the starting line-up over the last couple of years, rarely first-choice, making 26 league appearances in each of the previous two seasons. While that seems decent for a young player at a big club, a return of eight league goals in 65 appearances for Arsenal is not.
Akpom also struggled for game time
There are three ways this season could go for Iwobi: He could take the step up and win his place in an Arsenal side. A tough ask when they have bolstered their squad with a lot of quality over the past 12 months. He could continue on the fringes of the squad, but that risks a halt of his development in the same way as Kelechi Iheanacho at Leicester City. Or he could, like Chuba Akpom, try his luck elsewhere.
The first option, fighting to become a regular with the Gunners, is perhaps the most daunting for Iwobi. However, there seems to be a renewed vigour around the club since the appointment of Unai Emery at the end of the season. They are still longshots at around 25/1 to win the Premier League, but they are co-favourites (Bet Victor) with Chelsea at 6/1 to win the Europa League. Indeed, those catching Arsenal in live football games online have seen some stellar performances of late, including the 5-1 defeat of PSG.
Emery has high hopes for Gunners
The point is that it is a fresh start for Arsenal under Unai Emery, and that should mean a fresh chance for Iwobi. It’s clear that the player has talent, otherwise he would not have brought into the first team by former manager Arsène Wenger. The question is about the application. Going to 3am parties two nights before a big game should be off the agenda for Iwobi if he wants to make it as an elite footballer.