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Iwobi May Need To Leave Arsenal Like Bennacer If He Is To Fulfill Potential

On October 27 2015, Arsenal suffered a 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in the Round of 16 of the League Cup, but for fans in Nigeria and Algeria, it will be remembered as the day two of Africa’s brightest prospect in Alex Iwobi and Ismael Bennacer made their debuts for the Gunners.

 

However, since they both made their debuts on that fateful night, their careers have taken a different route. Bennacer left the Emirates in 2017 on loan before signing for Italian Serie A side Empoli permanently.

 

Alex Iwobi meanwhile is still at Arsenal and recently signed a long term deal with the club last year. However, aside from a few here and there special moments, Iwobi’s has not really unlocked his potential at the emirates. In contrast, Bennacer has made progress even if it may not be massive since he left the Gunners in 2017.

 

Two years younger than Iwobi, Bennacer has enjoyed a run of games with Empoli which aided his development.

 

In 2017/2018 season, the dynamic and versatile left-footed midfielder played 39 league matches for the Gli Azzurri registering four assists and scoring two goals.  He continued in the same vein as Empoli gained promotion to the Italian topflight the following season.

 

The former Tours midfielder made 37 appearances last season registering five assists. He capped up a wonderful season, leading Algeria to their first nation cups in 29 years, winning the player of the tournament in the process.

 

While Bennacer has enjoyed a new lease of life since he left Arsenal in 2017, the same cannot really be said about Alex Iwobi who has failed to live up to expectations at the Emirates.

And that begs the question if Jay-Jay Okocha’s nephew needs to follow Bennacer’s suit by leaving Arsenal in order to realise his potential.

Although it may be harsh to say Iwobi has not really been good for the gunners, his performances suggest that which may be due to his role in the team.

 

Since he made his Premier League debut in 2015, Iwobi has played 100 premier league games which is not bad for a 23-year-old. However, the downside to these stats is that in these games, he has managed just 16 assists and 11 goals.

 

Many believe the 23-year-old will perform effectively has an attacking midfielder, but he has been deployed out wide on the wing which has limited his creativity.

 

While he may be versatile, he recently confirmed he enjoys playing as an attacking midfielder.  “Everyone is entitled to their opinion… “But I do play in a different position for Nigeria, as an attacking midfielder. I am more comfortable playing there.”

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