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Alex Iwobi admits he didn’t expect Arsene Wenger to leave this summer, after spending his entire Arsenal career under the manager, but he’s looking forward to the future now.
Iwobi was speaking in the pre-match programme notes for Nigeria’s match against England at Wembley on Saturday.
“I was surprised by his decision,” he said. “[Wenger] has been there for me since I joined the club and has been very inspirational and influential on my career, but I am excited having our new manager [Emery] next season.
“It has always been my childhood dream [to play for Arsenal]. I have been playing for Arsenal since I was six. The fact I am representing them now is like a dream come true. I am always proud to wear the Arsenal colours, and long may it continue.”
The midfielder made a positive impression on the pitch for Nigeria, scoring clinically despite the eventual defeat. He continues to grow in the estimations of his country’s fans, particularly after scoring the goal that sent them to the World Cup.
He doesn’t get half as much credit from Arsenal supporters, perhaps because he hasn’t had as many of those big moments for the club so far. However, he only turned 22 years old a month ago, and still has plenty of time to change that.
Working under a new manager should help, especially if he can find a role in Emery’s system like he has with his country. There’s no doubting Iwobi’s talent in an Arsenal shirt, but he sometimes seems a little directionless, and hopefully the new head coach can give him the focus he needs.
It will be strange for all of us not seeing Arsene Wenger on the sidelines next season. With any luck, though, Emery can build on what the 68-year-old left behind and help the club move on.