Alex Iwobi Quickly Needs to Figure Out What His Best Position Is

Max Haley
Alex Iwobi has struggled for Everton this season
Alex Iwobi has struggled for Everton this season / Visionhaus/Getty Images
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Hands up if you know Alex Iwobi's best position. Anyone? None of Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery or Marco Silva could figure it out either.

Throughout his professional career, Iwobi has been used on the left, the right and through the middle. That could be seen as versatility, but in Iwobi’s situation, it is most likely due to a limited number of great performances in any given position.

Iwobi left Arsenal for a princely sum
Iwobi left Arsenal for a princely sum / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Since Carlo Ancelotti joined Everton in December, the Nigeria international has predominantly played on the right of the Italian's favoured 4-4-2, and has had one of his best performances for the Toffees there. But, much like the majority of Everton’s midfielders, he has struggled to get to grips with his manager's system.

Iwobi does offer exactly what Ancelotti wants defensively from his wide midfielders; hard work and concentration, and he also has an ability to carry the ball up the pitch.

However, his final product leaves a lot to be desired, and he is not someone who can grab the game by the scruff of the neck, instead more of a peripheral figure. Scoring just once in the league this season and failing to pick up an assist, both Silva and Ancelotti have failed to get the best of him.

Iwobi scored his first Arsenal goal against Everton
Iwobi scored his first Arsenal goal against Everton / Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

At Arsenal, Iwobi showed glimpses of being a devastating forward. His first goal for Arsenal - against Everton - was a wonderful combination of speed, drive and composure, and when he was sold it came as a bit of a surprise for many Gunners fans.

In an unsettled Everton side, Iwobi has struggled. But he has on occasion looked as though he could prove to be a valuable investment. His best performance for Everton came at Norwich, undeniably the worst team in the league, where he ran the game from the right of the midfield, showing his trademark dribbling ability and delivering a number of dangerous crosses.

When he is on his game Iwobi can be a real threat. He has an admirable work ethic, always leaving everything on the pitch. He also has incredibly quick feet and developed a habit of pulling off some spectacular nutmegs while at Arsenal. But, as well as his best position remaining a mystery to managers and the man himself, Iwobi is also inconsistent and lacks a real cutting edge.

Iwobi in action against Aston Villa
Iwobi in action against Aston Villa / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

If Ancelotti is to get the best out of Iwobi, where should he look to play him?

As a left winger under Silva he failed to impress, and under Ancelotti he has generally looked uncomfortable on the right of a midfield four. If you isolate his key attributes - control in tight spaces, driving runs, link play and hard work - Iwobi may be best used as a withdrawn striker.

In the Premier League, players like Roberto Firmino, Alexandre Lacazette and Harry Kane have all thrived as deep-lying forwards. While he is miles off those strikers, Iwobi could utilise his main qualities in this role.

It will be a tough decision for Ancelotti, as Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have both looked very good playing up front for the Toffees.

So where else could he be used?

Iwobi doesn't really fit either of Ancelotti's favoured formations.
Iwobi doesn't really fit either of Ancelotti's favoured formations. / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Against Sheffield United, Gylfi Sigurdsson played back in his usual number ten role, and prospered. But at 31, and his impact on games generally dwindling, Sigurdsson’s days at Everton may be numbered. You can already see him in an Ajax shirt, eh!

Perhaps Iwobi could utilise his wonderful dribbling ability and his tendency to carry the ball forward in that number ten role and Ancelotti could keep Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin in the team too.

Until he is used in these two positions though, Iwobi has to prove - whenever he gets the chance - that he can do a job for Ancelotti’s side, and then maybe he’ll get his chance to shine.

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