Andries Jonker says Alex Iwobi’s incredible motivation and dedication makes him the “perfect” player to coach.
The 19-year-old captained Arsenal’s Youth League side last season and has gone on to make his first-team debut and win his first international cap for Nigeria during a breakthrough campaign.
Iwobi’s progress has seen him move into the first-team dressing room and, although he did not play in the under-19s' defeat at Anderlecht on Tuesday, Jonker says his emergence is one of the biggest positives from his side’s European campaign.
“Every now and then we have had players who have attracted attention but I think the one who has succeeded most is Alex Iwobi, who is with the first team now,” Jonker told Arsenal Player.
“He played at home against Bayern Munich, made two very nice goals and was great for the team. Since then we haven’t seen him because he’s with the first team and that’s what it’s all about.
“Alex is incredibly motivated, dedicated, willing to work and open to listening. He is always trying to improve himself. That makes him a perfect player because, with the talent he has already, he can continue to develop. That’s what’s happening at the moment.”
Arsenal's Youth League campaign came to a disappointing end in Brussels, but Jonker is hoping the European experience will help more youngsters follow in Iwobi’s footsteps.
“This is the best experience they can get,” the manager said. “This is about winning or losing. The group stage is about qualifying, the knockout games mean that you go through or you don’t and I think that’s exactly what the boys need. In England, until under-16s, there is no league football at all, it’s just friendly games.
“It’s of huge importance to play matches that matter. If there’s one league in the world about winning or losing, it’s the Premier League. If you want to develop players to play at that level you have to develop them, you have to teach them, so this is very important.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source