Arsenal of England midfielder, Alex Iwobi is basking in the euphoria of the opportunity he has to line out as a playmaker for the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, as he says it means he is playing in his preferred position, as against being employed down the left flank.
Having gained the chance of starring as Nigeria’s creative player in the second half of their AFCON matches against Burundi and Madagascar as well as in the starting role of the second Group B match versus Guinea, Iwobi says he is excited with the opportunity to show his true self.
Although many pundits questioned his performance in the game with Guinea, Iwobi would remembered for reviving Nigeria’s midfield in their opening match versus Burundi, thereby paving way for the lone goal scored by Odion Jude Ighalo, off a special back-heel assist from Ola Aina, then got off the bench to try his best against Madagascar as well.
However, while he appears assured of another starring role from his preferred spot in Saturday’s round of 16 clash witrh Cameroon, the 23-year-old Iwobi admits he does not have the same leverage at Arsenal, as he is often used as a winger by The Gunners’ coach, Unai Emery.
In fact, Iwobi’s flank duties at Arsenal began even before Emery’s arrival at Emirates Stadium, such that The Gunners’ former under-21 squad’s captain admits he is not comfortable with his duties at the London club.
Last season, he featured 35 times in the Premier League, 13 of which as substitute, making 951 passes and creating 40 chances, then scored The Gunners’ only goal in their 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League final, after replacing Lucas Torreira in the 66th minute.
However, while stressing he would prefer to play as a central midfielder, not down the flanks, the 23-year-old, admitted that he has been forced wide at Arsenal due to the presence of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Torreira at the club, but submitted that he is ready to feature wherever he is needed for the team’s progress and asked to fill in by Emery.
Iwobi told Goal: “Wherever I’m being told to play in the middle or somewhere, I will always give my best
“I’ve always seen myself as a midfielder but I’m happy to play anywhere, I will play wherever I’m told to play.
“Growing up I’ve been playing as an attacking midfielder, more central in the midfield.
“I wouldn’t say if I’m most comfortable there but that’s where I grew up playing.”