Alex Iwobi played in the hole in Everton’s Carabao Cup clash with Queens Park Rangers and his position in Rafael Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 system caught the eye.
Is Alex Iwobi confused about his best position?
Having implied he prefers playing as a number 10 months ago, the Everton man has now seemingly backtracked and added some nuance.
The Nigerian played in a central position behind the striker — Salomon Rondon — but was he happy with that decision? Months ago, the West African seemed to aim a dig at Carlo Ancelotti for not playing him in his favorite position and the Italian’s response indicated he was open to playing the attacking midfielder behind the striker.
“I read the post. I want to speak to him, of course. I want to know his preferred position because usually, I want to put a player on the pitch where they are comfortable to play, not where they are uncomfortable to play,” Ancelotti said, as per the Guardian.
“If he has an idea of where he prefers to play I have to know, I want to know. I would be delighted to know his preferred position and I’ll put him in his preferred position for sure, no doubt.
“I am going to tell him: ‘Tell me, I am your manager, tell me where you want to play. When I thought to put Pirlo as a holding midfielder I asked him: ‘Do you like to play there or not?’.
‘Yes’, he said to me, ‘I’d love to play there’ and so I put him there.
“If he wants to play number 10 or number nine I’ll put him at number 10 or number nine no problem. I can adapt the system.”
However, months down the line, the former Arsenal player revealed where he flourishes best, with a subtle difference and in-depth explanation.
“I think playing different roles has helped me to understand the game a bit more, especially those defensive roles. I'm not going to complain - playing right wing-back, right midfield, left midfield, I'll play anywhere and I'll always give my best,” Iwobi told the club’s website.
“I aim to get more goals and assists but if I'm asked to do it at right wing-back, then I'll do it and try my best!
“I think, for Everton, my best position for the team is probably out wide. For my national team, it's completely different and I do like playing in the midfield as a number 8 or number 10.
“I feel like I can play in any position. For each manager and each team, it's going to be different.”
Notably, Benitez deployed the West African in his preferred position for Nigeria in Everton’s elimination at QPR on Tuesday.
It didn’t translate into the best showing for the Nigerian who lost possession 13 times, missed a big chance and lost all but two of his nine duels on the night.
Everton have now lost two games in succession after a bright start to the campaign under the Spaniard and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond at home to Norwich City this weekend.
No matter how that encounter plays out, Iwobi’s favorite position will probably continue to generate discussion in the coming weeks and months.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
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