According to the Guardian, Alex Iwobi is set to receive his second contract extension of the season.
The Arsenal youngster initially signed improved terms in October, but following three impressive performances against Barcelona, Everton, and Watford, the club have decided to once again improve the academy product’s terms in a contract that runs to 2021.
The past three weeks have been exciting for Iwobi. He started and impressed at the Camp Nou, made his competitive debut for Nigeria thus locking up his international future, and scored his first two Premier League goals for Arsenal against Everton and Watford. Improved terms is just the icing on the cake.
Arsene Wenger praised Iwobi’s integration into the first team after Saturday’s win against Watford.
“It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game. He’s worked with us since the start of the season and he has grown, gained confidence and when he came in he had an impact straight away.
“That’s benefited from the fact that he knows everybody and they trust him as well. I didn’t expect that level of efficiency or impact on the score sheet.”
Arsenal fans at the Emirates this weekend recognized Iwobi’s impact on the squad and gave him a standing ovation when Theo Walcott replaced him. Wenger acknowledged that was a significant moment.
“These people have seen many good players over the years and they know straight away when a player has something special, so they acknowledge that.
“You cannot cheat people. They’ve seen how quickly he’s improved and how well he’s played.”
Iwobi signed for Arsenal at the age eight and came through the ranks along with Chuba Akpom. Iwobi had never been a player that garnered much attention as one to look for in the future, however, his attitude and “coach-ability” got the attention of Arsenal’s senior coaches. Wenger decided Iwobi would benefit from being in the first team this season, rather than send him on loan to garner match experience, like he did with Akpom, Dan Crowley, and Gedion Zelalem. That decision has clearly paid off.
Up until now, Iwobi mostly played in the FA Cup where he started in place of Mesut Özil as Arsenal’s number 10. He impressed in all of his appearances, earning more playing time in the Champions League and Premier League.
Iwobi’s emergence has changed the way Arsenal’s front three plays. Along with Özil, Iwobi serves as the creative fulcrum behind Danny Welbeck, whose pace and movement have energized Arsenal’s attack, and Alexis Sanchez who seems free and confident on the right.
Iwobi’s good form couldn’t have come at better time for the Gunners. Although the club’s title hopes are slim, players like Olivier Giroud and Walcott have put in a series of mediocre performance. A top-four spot is not yet secure and second place is very much within their reach. Without Iwobi, Wenger would have had little choice but to start either Walcott or Joel Campbell out wide, or start Giroud and push Welbeck wide.
It remains to be seen how Iwobi has changed Wenger’s transfer plans this summer, if he has at all. But his rise to the first team certainly makes a player like Walcott expendable.