Former Nigeria international, Nwankwu Kanu, has challenged Alex Iwobi to become “a star” in Unai Emery’s new-look Arsenal side as the youngster prepares to sign a new long-term deal at the Emirates.
Iwobi is set to be handed a five-year contract by Emery, who has already given his first impressions of the 22-year-old.
Iwobi has made 98 appearances for Arsenal since breaking through late in the 2015-16 season but, after an encouraging start to his career, he has been struggling of late.
“In Arsenal you have big, big names,” Kanu who spent five yars at Arsenal (1999 – 2004), told Standard Sport. “I don’t think he sees himself in that way.
“When I talk with him I want him to feel that way. Just because you’re younger than the other players doesn’t mean you’re not a star. He’s a star in his own right.
“When he comes to Nigeria he feels the pressure: he’s Iwobi, he needs to deliver. With Arsenal he thinks ‘ok, there’s other names here, no problem’. He needs to change that.
“For me he’s a special kid. He didn’t just become a bad player overnight. If the team isn’t doing well it affects everybody. He’s a talented player who’ll do more and do better for Arsenal.”
Kanu reflected on his time at Arsenal when he had to struggle for playing time.
“You have to believe in your quality first of all. You have to know your strengths and tell yourself you’re the best.
“At times I didn’t play but I was still the best – that’s how I saw it. If I get 15, 20 minutes I will do what I have to do and make an impact.
“Iwobi needs to be convinced he can be in the team and if the coach thinks otherwise he has to fight to convince him he should be.”