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Arsenal star could miss start of 2016/17 season
Arsenal star Alex Iwobi could miss a large part of the start of next season after confirming he’s keen to play for Nigeria at this summer’s Olympic Games.
Iwobi has enjoyed a breakthrough year with the 19-year-old establishing himself as a regular in Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven over the past few months.
The teenager has started in four of our last five games in all competitions and followed up his first goal for the club against Everton with another strike against Watford last weekend.
Iwobi is also set to sign a new long-term contract with the club so no doubt Arsene will be looking for the youngster to kick on again next season to really cement his place in the team.
However, the boss may not be able to call upon the midfielder at the start of next season as Iwobi has expressed his interest in representing Nigeria at this summer’s Rio Olympics.
Iwobi made his competitive debut for the Super Eagles last month and is keen to link-up with his nation again this summer. He told Goal:
“It was a massive disappointment for the team that we did not qualify for the forthcoming Africa Cup Nations.
“I am looking forward to the forthcoming Olympics and if I am invited, I will do my best to make a meaningful contribution.
“I believe that Nigeria has a crop of excellent players who are capable of doing great things at the Olympics. Coach Samson Siasia deserves a lot of praise for securing a place for the nation at the Olympics.
“I do not have any regrets whatsoever in opting to play for Nigeria and will always do my best whenever I put on the green white green colours of Nigeria. I hope to be involved in the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers too.
“I am very grateful to my teammates, the Nigeria Football Federation, coaches, the press and fans for the warm welcome I received following my decision to come home.
“Nigeria is a great footballing nation and deserves to assume her rightful place in Africa and world football and I am keen to be part of a team that achieves this goal.”
The Rio Olympics start on August 3rd – ten days before the 2016/17 Premier League campaign kicks off – and Iwobi would be ruled out until the 20th if Nigeria make it all the way to the final of the tournament.
If called up by his country, the youngster would certainly miss Arsenal’s pre-season preparations and at least a couple of weeks of the new campaign. However, Wenger usually gives his players four weeks off following a major international tournament so we could be without Iwobi’s services until well into September.
Arsenal do have the option to block Iwobi from linking up with Nigeria as the Olympics fall outside FIFA’s window of international fixtures but I’d personally be surprised if Wenger took this option.