I like the Kingsley Coman link, but what are Emery’s plans for Alex Iwobi?

According to BeIn Sports, we may be interested in acquiring the rapid young Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman. The 22-year-old may be available, and it seems we are ready to pounce. Unai Emery recently stated he was content with his squad but would be open to adding another player if they were a special talent. Coman, who unluckily missed out on the French World Cup squad, fits that profile. However, despite my intrigue and enthusiasm fostered by this rumour, I found myself thinking, “What is Unai Emery going to do with Alex Iwobi?”

Alexander Chuka Iwobi, born 3 May 1996, joined Arsenal as a primary school student. He is a true product of our youth academy and as the nephew of the legendary Jay Jay Okacha, has football royalty running through his veins. He made his first team debut in 2015, but after a string of positive performances early on, fouled to improve his game and find consistency.

Ten goals and eight assists in 65 premiership games is not terrible for a youngster, but when you remind yourself of the players in his peer group, it’s obvious his development has stalled:

Leroy Sane – 22 years old

Dele Alli – 22

Anthony Martial – 22

Raheem Sterling – 23

Gabriel Jesus – 21

Harry Kane – 24

Thomas Lemar – 22

Marcus Asensio – 22

There’s a lot to like about Iwobi. He has huge physical potential, fantastic balance, excellent close ball control and importantly a wonderful attitude. So, despite his obvious talents why has he struggled to find the next level and keep up with his peers? I think similarly to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, his development was not helped by the constant rotation of his position and a lack of tactical consistency.

What he needs now is:

A consistent position and clarity on his role in the team

At the moment he does not have an identity as a midfielder. Is he a continuity player who is not measured by assists and goals, but on key passes and ball retention? Is he an inside forward? Is he a central attacking midfielder? These are questions that Emery and Iwobi will need to answer to energise his development once more.

To improve his final ball and shooting technique

He is very good at turning the play towards the opposition’s penalty area and entering into dangerous positions, but he hasn’t converted this into more goals and assists. It’s encouraging to know that the only midfielders to register more shots on target last season were KDB, Riyad Mahrez, Christian Eriksen and Aaron Ramsey. This suggests small improvements to his technique and further composure will lead to more goals.

Be slightly more arrogant

I mentioned his fantastic attitude. He works hard and is passionate about giving 100% to the team, but at times he may be too humble. He needs to watch a few videos of his uncle embarrassing Ray Parlour and not be afraid to repeat those exploits. He must aim to be more than a decent premiership midfielder.

At present, we aren’t aware of how Emery will shape his midfield, but we do know that he will employ a high press system. Iwobi has the physical aptitude to execute on this so hopefully he is firmly in the manager’s plans.

I don’t think the signing of Coman, means an exit for Iwobi and I really hope he is given the chance to succeed. As with Granit Xhaka, there is a top player in there somewhere, and I hope Emery can extract it.

25 days to go.

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