Arsenal’s Head of Academy, Andries Jonker, recently explained why talented 19-year-old Alex Iwobi is ‘one of the best’ players he has ever coached.
It’s safe to say that this season has been the Nigerian’s breakout year. The young Arsenal product was the captain and one of the best players in the club’s under-21 squad last year. Although Iwobi is still a key player for Arsenal’s youth teams – despite the fact that he didn’t play against Anderlecht on Tuesday night – he now has gone on to gain first team action this year.
Iwobi has play both Arsenal’s FA Cup games this year and has also made his international debut for Nigeria, something Jonker, as reported by the club’s official website, puts down to his motivation and dedication.
Alex is incredibly motivated, dedicated, willing to work and open to listening. He is always trying to improve himself. That makes him a perfect player because, with the talent he has already, he can continue to develop. That’s what’s happening at the moment.
Every now and then we have had players who have attracted attention but I think the one who has succeeded most is Alex Iwobi, who is with the first team now.
He played at home against Bayern Munich, made two very nice goals and was great for the team. Since then we haven’t seen him because he’s with the first team and that’s what it’s all about.
Although Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign ended against Anderlecht, Jonker believes the European experience is key in a young players development.
This is the best experience they can get. This is about winning or losing. The group stage is about qualifying, the knockout games mean that you go through or you don’t and I think that’s exactly what the boys need. In England, until under-16s, there is no league football at all, it’s just friendly games.
It’s of huge importance to play matches that matter. If there’s one league in the world about winning or losing, it’s the Premier League. If you want to develop players to play at that level you have to develop them, you have to teach them, so this is very important.