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How does Alex Iwobi fit in at Everton?

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The very versatile attacker is a good buy for Everton.

2019 Africa Cup Of Nations - Tunisia Vs Nigeria Photo by Ahmed Awaad/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Everton at the last gasp of the transfer window managed to secure the sort of attacker it has needed all summer long. Thankfully, they did so without spending an unholy amount of money on Wilfried Zaha. Instead, they have landed Alex Iwobi from Arsenal, a player the London club never should have let go at his age with his abilitites.

In all likelihood buying Iwobi pushes Richarlison over to the right and allows him to play on the left. The 23-year-old can spend time on either side and can even play as a CAM if Gylfi needs a spell, but given the fact that Richarlison was already spending a lot of time on the right at the end of last season this seems like a natural move.

Here are some interesting numbers from Iwobi last season:

I’m a bit dubious about putting a player with 1200 league minutes on a chart with David Silva and Lionel Messi. That said, in that somewhat limited sample size he is already putting up excellent per 90 numbers and he gives us a set of attackers all between the ages of 19 (Moise Kean) and 23 (Iwobi). This crop should mature in a similar time frame creating a several year window of opportunity for Everton to win games with Richarlison, Kean, Iwobi, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Alex Iwobi last four seasons
Understat.com

While Iwobi doesn’t have the key pass numbers I would prefer, his buildup involvement and xA90 are outstanding. Given the fact that Richarlison (and probably Kean) should be spending most of their time finding positions in the box to shoot it will be great to have a forward who can drop and help build the attack.

His versatility is also criminally under-rated, as he’s been able to slot in just about anywhere in the attacking half as needed.

Alex Iwobi positions played
Transfermarkt

Don’t count on him to score a ton of goals, which can be a problem since his direct competition Bernard doesn’t either, but with Richarlison, Kean, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, we don’t need him to do that. I’m very curious to see how Iwobi handles an additional minutes workload, since we’ll probably give him twice what he got at Arsenal last year, but tactically I think this is a much better fit than if we’d gotten a shoot-first guy like Zaha instead.

Alex Iwobi last four seasons
Understat.com

Take a look at his xG+xA/90 numbers for last season - 0.52, which means that he basically scored or assisted on a goal every two full games he played. That would put him highest of any of the Everton squad for 2018-19.

I don’t know how Marcel Brands does it. We get right down to the edge of the window and all the sudden he pulls together just the sort of deal we need to keep the project moving in the right direction, though Marco Silva seemed to insinuate that he was a target for the Toffees all summer.

Blues should really like this move. Don’t be surprised to see him dropping deep, chipping in defensively, overlapping with Lucas Digne, and playing back and forth with Andre Gomes in the middle of the pitch. I think it’ll make Everton’s attack far more balanced than it was all last season and gives us several different ways we can play. Excellent, excellent work late on in the window.