Arsene Wenger praises Iwobi, says not surprised by player's break into first team
Arsene Wenger has praised Alex Iwobi for quickly establishing himself as a trailblazer within Arsenal's squad.
The Nigeria international, joined from the youth team, was handed a rare start and impressed as Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League following a 3-1 defeat at Camp Nou thanks to goals from Neymar, Luiz Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Iwobi has made 13 appearances this season, and Wenger claimed he is not surprised at what the rookie does.
“Every year we have the good luck to see young players come through. Last year it was Hector Bellerin, this year it is Iwobi,” Wenger told Engish tabloid The Sun.
“I know that Alex has impressed a lot of people since he came into the first team squad. He is a creative player, a guy who provokes mistakes from the opponents with the vertical way he plays.
“That can be expressed on the flanks or through the middle. In fact when he was in the youth team he only played on the flanks and I put him in the centre because I liked the way he read the game and the speed of his understanding of the game.
“I saw him emerge in training but he was not one of the obvious ones who looked like breaking through.
“When he was in the youth team you had to keep a really close eye on him to see what was behind.
“I'm not surprised that he does so well but it is true that at the beginning of the season even I would not have predicted that he would make such an impact in such a short space of time.
“He can express his talent in every single offensive position. Alex has the stature and can use his body power to play a bit deeper in midfield,” he concluded.
“But you want to be cautious. What is always a problem in England is that immediately people become too famous too quickly and are treated like they have done it all.
“You always want to say 'come on, slow down'. When you have plated 250 games you can say this is a player, not after two.
“A modern top player is a guy who has a good combination of humility and ambition – humility off the pitch and ambition on the pitch. That makes real champions.”