Super Eagles star Alex Iwobi has joined Everton in a Nigerian-record signing of £40m from Arsenal on a five-year deal.
Iwobi has been in Arsenal since he was seven and came through the ranks before making 149 appearances for the senior team.
“Alex has made a big contribution here at Arsenal. He worked hard in the academy where he was an example to many young players and has been an important part of our squad. We wish Alex every success in the future,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said in a statement on the club’s website.
Deadline day move
Iwobi became a subject of interest from Everton on Wednesday, August 7 but an initial £30m bid from the Premier League club was turned by Arsenal.
Everton returned with a better offer believed to be around £40m on Premier League Summer transfer deadline day.
Although Emery was not keen on letting go of the 23-year-old, Arsenal were forced to sell to recoup much-needed cash.
The deal sheet was filed to the Premier League before the close of the Premier League transfer window at 5 pm on Thursday and an announcement was made about an hour later.
“Alex was one of our main targets for this window and I believe he is a fantastic signing for Everton,” Everton manager Marco Silva said about Iwobi.
“He is a direct and skilful winger and attacking midfielder who always works very hard for his team.
“He is still young but already with a lot of top-level experience – 100 Premier League matches, more in Europe and many international games.
“It was important for me to have one more quality option for our attacking positions to add to what we have with Richarlison, Bernard and Theo Walcott.
“Alex fits exactly the profile of player I want in my model. He is hungry to join Everton and take the next step in his career, to help us compete with the strongest teams in the league and reach his potential at our club.”
Iwobi is now the most expensive Nigeria player after this £40m move and also Arsenal's most-expensive sale.
The Super Eagles star will be Everton’s seventh summer signing following the arrivals of Jonas Lossl, defender Djibril Sidibe, midfielders Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and striker Moise Kean.
Through the ranks
The move to Everton ends Iwobi’s 15-year stay at his boyhood club where he played 149 games.
Iwobi first joined Arsenal’s Hale End academy when he was eight and came through the ranks at the club before his senior team debut in a League Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday in October 2015.
Four days later, he made his Premier League debut and made four more substitute appearances in the league before his first league start against Everton in March 2016.
It was against his future club that he would score his first Premier League goal for Arsenal, finishing the season strongly to help the Gunners to a second-place finish.
It was in the 2016/2017 season that Iwobi truly broke out under Arsene Wenger. Playing from the left of Arsenal’s attack, the Nigerian snagged critical acclaim with his confidence and composure on the ball.
“I'm impressed with the young boy Alex Iwobi,” Premier League great Alex Ferguson said in an interview with a German magazine in October 2016.
Although his performances like Arsenal’s title challenge fizzled out towards the end of the season he, he ended that year with his first career trophy, the FA Cup.
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He made 27 starts in that campaign and 39 games in total for Arsenal with four goals and eight assists.
He continued to impress as a first-team player at Arsenal and although he struggled for consistency. Iwobi made 39 appearances in the 2017/2018 season with three goals and seven assists.
Following the exit of Wenger, Iwobi was handed a new contract just before the 2018/2019 season and he went on to score six goals and nine assists in 51 appearances in his last season.