BBC Sport commentator Noel Whelan has raved over Everton’s Alex Iwobi after the Nigerian caught his eye with his standout performance against West Ham United.
Iwobi retained his place in Marco Silva’s starting line-up from the side that were beaten by Burnley prior to the international break (TransferMarkt) but moved in centrally as Gylfi Sigurdsson dropped to the bench.
From the core of the Toffees’ offence, Iwobi was able to demonstrate a direct contribution to his side’s attack and has been praised for his ‘quick, sharp’ movement that offered a positive presence when in possession of the ball.
Iwobi spent 4.2% of the game in control of possession before being replaced by Sigurdsson in the 87th-minute on Saturday, per WhoScored data, which allowed the Nigerian playmaker to record 50 touches and the joint-second-most key passes with two.
It was Iwobi’s fourth Premier League start since joining Everton in the summer, and Whelan feels the 23-year-old displayed enough against West Ham to suggest he was the Blues’ best signing of the window – ahead of Andre Gomes.
Gomes was signed permanently in June following a year on loan at Goodison Park, but former Leeds United striker Whelan’s comments suggest his previous season on Merseyside counted against his inclusion in the best acquisition category.
“He’s really impressed me,” Whelan told Football Insider as he assessed Iwobi’s game against West Ham. “It was a big shock Everton signed him, but he looks the real deal.
“He’s quick, sharp, his movement is good, he’s nice and positive on the ball and is always looking to create things. He’s got an eye for goal as well, and I think he’ll score quite a few this season as well as create for others.
“You look at the players Everton brought in this summer. Gomes is quality, but he was already there last year, and I’d say Iwobi has been their best signing of the year. It was a shrewd move.”
Playing centrally certainly helped Iwobi to have a greater influence on proceedings than when he has featured out wide for Everton, as the 23-year-old managed his most passes in a single Toffees game against West Ham with 34 and his two key passes was a feet only matched against Manchester City last month.
His sole attempted dribble was also the same number as he had managed in each of his previous two league appearances, while his two shots were only one fewer than he managed from the left against Burnley and Bournemouth.
Playing Iwobi centrally also allowed Bernard to return to the starting line-up for the first time since facing Sheffield United, and the Brazilian’s hard-working performance brought the opening goal of the day when he connected with Theo Walcott.
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