Nwanko Kanu: Arsenal wrong to sell Alex Iwobi
Arsenal made a big mistake when they sold Alex Iwobi to Everton
That is the view of Gunners legend Nwankwo Kanu, who believes his former club should have done all they could to hold on to a player they had developed since he was eight.
Iwobi left the Emirates on deadline day, switching north London for Merseyside in a deal that could eventually total £40 million ($49m).
It was a transfer that came out of the blue, with Everton switching their attention to Iwobi after seeing bids for Wilfried Zaha repeatedly knocked back by Crystal Palace.
Arsenal rejected Everton’s initial offer for Iwobi, which was closer to £30m ($37m), but accepted the second when it arrived in the final hours of the transfer window.
It was a deal the Gunners hierarchy felt was a good one for the club, with the offer arriving at the end of a window that had seen Arsenal commit to over £140m ($173m) worth of transfers – including a club-record £72m ($89m) fee for Nicolas Pepe.
But for Kanu, the decision to cash in on the 23-year-old was the wrong one.
“I would say they made a mistake, 100 per cent,” the Nigeria hero told Goal . “Why they let him go, I don’t know.
“He’s a boy who, in and out, is Arsenal. He always wanted to do his best for the club. He loves the club, but not only that he can play football. What he brings week in, week out, the fans need to appreciate that.
“I think he is still young and those are the type of people you want in the team, people who grew up here, who knows everything about the club and wants to die for the club.
“He was one of them, so for us to lose him and to let him go, was a shock. I couldn’t really believe we did it, but that’s football.”
Kanu knows Iwobi well, with the winger having become a regular in the Nigeria national team in recent years.
When the transfer went through, he wished his compatriot well on social media, tweeting: “We are proud of you and will continue to support you. Good luck with your new club.”
But the 43-year-old, who won two league titles during his five-year stay with Arsenal between 1999 and 2004, admits if Iwobi had asked for advice, he would have told him not to leave the Emirates.
“It was a surprise to everybody because it happened right at the end of the window,” said Kanu. “If I knew earlier, I could have said to him not to go and that it was better for him to stay.
“I would have said that there was no need for him to go because at Arsenal he will still play. He’s that good and he needs to know that.
“I think Arsenal would have been the best place for him because it’s a big club and you want to play in a big club and in Europe. Those are the games you want to play.”