Arsenal have rejected a £30M bid from Everton for winger Alex Iwobi. Like the Gunners, the Toffees appear to be turning to their “Wilfried Zaha Plan B” after balking at Crystal Palace’s asking price. It’s mildly amusing that Arsenal’s Zaha alternative, Nicolas Pépé, is the reason that Iwobi might now be surplus to requirements in North London. Just the [extremely Lion King voice] circle of transfers.
Everton are expected to make a second bid, and Arsenal are seeking at least £40M for the 23-year old. Iwobi, while not actively agitating for a move, would reportedly agree to personal terms should the two clubs make a deal.
I’m of two minds about this deal. I’d like for Arsenal to keep him. I’ve always rated Iwobi higher than most, and he improved dramatically last season. I like his willingness to go at defenders — it is a trait in short supply at Arsenal. He’s still young, and it feels like he has one more big, developmental leap in him.
By that same token, he has been playing first team football since 2015 — he may already be the player he is going to be. He is extremely limited defensively, which is not great when the overall consensus is that the club is deficient at the back.
£40M is a lot of money, and the squad still has holes to fill. The unfortunate reality is that Arsenal are not in a position to keep everyone or buy whoever they want. Progress comes at a price, and some of the decisions, even the correct ones, are going to sting. Arsenal have a surplus of attacking options and a new signing in Pépé that plays Iwobi’s position. They can turn the money around for either a CB or a LB. It’s more than half of RB Leipzig’s asking price for CB Dayot Upamecano and significantly more than Celtic’s £25M valuation of Kieran Tierney.
If Everton meet Arsenal’s valuation, I’d take the deal.