Nigerian youngster Alex Iwobi will not be alone at the Emirates as he continues his career development with Arsenal following Jack Wilshere’s pledge to watch his back.
The 19-year-old broke into the Gunners first team this season but manager Arsene Wenger prefers Oliver Giroud, Danny Welbeck, and Theo Walcott as the main strikers as the North Londoners compete for the premier league title.
However, Wilshere is hoping he can offer some guidance to Iwobi – despite being just 24, is one of the senior players as he has racked up more than 150 appearances for Arsenal despite a string of injuries, the latest of which is a broken leg sustained last August in pre-season training – has meant he has yet to appear this season.
“I look back to [when I was a kid] and, if I can be like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were for Alex, then I will do that,” Wilshere told the Arsenal Weekly podcast. “Sometimes it’s hard for them to ask because they might be a little bit shy.
“They don’t really ask you but you feel as though you have a responsibility because you’re there, you’ve been there and you know what they’ve been through.
“They’re coming into a dressing room with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis [Sanchez] who are big players, so that can be scary for a young player but Alex is a good kid off the pitch.”
He continued: “When I first came in, players like Cesc and Samir were great with me. They put their arm around me and told me how to act.
“If I didn’t play then I would be upset, but they would tell me that I was young and that I would play in the end.”
The England international is a big fan of the Super Eagles star and has praised the player’s attitude.
“He wants to learn, he’s got the right attitude, puts in the right work in training and when he gets game time he has shown the fans what he can do,” Wilshere said.
“I don’t like to call it mentoring because Alex is 19 so he’s not a kid, but I know what it’s like for him because I’ve been there.
“You almost feel a little bit of responsibility, not to mentor him, but to steer him in the right direction.
“There are a few I have been impressed with in the youth team but Alex is leading the way now.
“It’s probably six or seven years since I made the step and, apart from me, nobody has come up from the under-9s to make it into the first team.
“You’re seeing now that another one has done it and that will give the young lads confidence.”