Ex-Super Eagles’ captain, Nwankwo Kanu has slammed one of his former clubs, Arsenal of England for selling Nigerian midfielder, Alex Iwobi to their English Premier League rivals, Everton during the summer transfer window.
‘King Kanu,’ who was part of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ that won the EPL title without losing a single match during the 2003/4 season, reasoned that Iwobi is still young and gives a lot of effort to the London-based club, where he grew through the ranks, such that seeing The Gunners cut the youngster loose was a major shock for him.
The two-time African Footballer of The Yeear, who captained Nigeria’s under-23 team to win the Olympic Games gold medal at Atlanta ’96, added that his former club should have done all they could to hold on to Iwobi, considering that the lad had developed with the team since he was eight, and even went on to captain their under-21 side before gaining promotion to the seniors.
However, much to Kanu’s consternation, Iwobi left the Emirates on the summer transfer window deadline day, switching from North London for Merseyside in a deal that could eventually total £40m, in a deal that came out of the blue, as Everton switched their attention to the Eagles’ star only after seeing their bids for Wilfried Zaha repeatedly snubbed by Crystal Palace.
Although Arsenal initially rejected Everton’s first offer for Iwobi, which was closer to £30m, The Gunners then accepted The Toffees’ second effort in the final hours of the transfer window that had already seen The Gunners commit over £140m in deals, including a club-record £72m fee for Cote d’Ivoire youngster, Nicolas Pepe from Lille Metropole of France.
Weeks after the switch, 43-year-old Kanu, who won two EPL titles during his five-year stay with Arsenal from 1999 to 2004, says he would have advised Iwobi not to leave Emirates Stadium, and stressed that the club’s decision to cash in on the 23-year-old playmaker was wrong.
Kanu told Goal: “I would say they made a mistake, 100 per cent. Why they let him go, I don’t know. He’s a boy who, in and out, is Arsenal. He always wanted to do his best for the club.
“He loves the club, but not only that, he can play football. What he brings week in, week out; the fans need to appreciate that. I think he is still young.
“Those are the type of people you want in the team, people who grew up here, who knows everything about the club and wants to die for the club.
“He was one of them, so for us to lose him and to let him go, was a shock. I couldn’t really believe we did it, but that’s football.”