Arsenal’s most famous Nigerian star, Nwankwo Kanu, has backed young compatriot Alex Iwobi ‘to make his mark’ at football’s highest level after a string of eye-catching performances this season.
The ‘Invincible’ – who played much of his international career alongside Iwobi’s uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha – says working with Arsene Wenger will help the 19-year-old build on his potential to become ‘the star Nigeria are looking for’.
“He is a young lad and he has all it takes,” Kanu told Arsenal Player last week. “He just needs to work hard and keep his head down and keep pushing so he gets his chance.
“Football is all about chances and when you have the opportunity you have to grab it. I believe he is going to make his mark. He is from Nigeria and we all support him and love him.
“He is the star we are looking for. He is going to learn a lot from Arsène Wenger and the club he is playing for – we need him to bring that back home and make sure he can help the national team.
“[He just needs to] keep his head down and not get carried away with a lot of things. Every day you train, you have to train on your weaknesses. With your strengths, you know them so you have to use them in the game.”
Iwobi was one of Arsenal’s bright sparks in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Hull at the weekend, racking up his ninth appearance of the season in a central midfield role just behind Theo Walcott.
Born in Lagos the teenager featured for England’s under-16, 17 and 18 sides before switching allegiance to Nigeria for whom he made his full debut last October. Given his impressive form, there’s a good chance Sunday Oliseh will select Iwobi for next month’s African Cup of Nations qualifier with Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt.