Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi has revealed that he considered leaving the club’s academy and even held talks with Crystal Palace, Southampton and Celtic.
The 22-year-old joined Arsenal in 2004 and has become the latest in a long line of success stories from the club’s famed academy, making 117 appearances for the first team where he’s scored 10 goals and claimed 23 assists.
Things could have been done very different for the Nigeria international, however, as Iwobi revealed that he considered leaving north London as a 16-year-old.
“I felt that maybe I wasn’t rated at Arsenal but I always felt at home here, so I signed the scholarship forms,” Iwobi explained, quoted by Standard Sport. “Then it was all about proving people wrong.”
During this time, Iwobi was in talks with Crystal Palace and Southampton, as well as Scottish giants Celtic. Just a few years later after a spell as the captain of Arsenal’s youth sides, the winger made his first team debut in a League Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday.
The following week, Iwobi appeared in the Premier League for the first time against Swansea. The Nigerian only made a cameo appearance, but he would go on to score two goals and claim the same amount of assists in his first three starts for Arsenal later that season.
Iwobi still hasn’t been able to nail down a first team place at Arsenal, but the winger is highly rated by fans in north London and he brings a combination of pace, power and trickery that is unparalleled in Unai Emery’s squad.