Alex Iwobi who has been Everton’s best player this season, has opened up on his initial struggles at Everton under Rafa Benitez and how the fans and the manager wanted him to go on loan.

The 26-year-old was highly criticized for his performance when he joined Everton from Arsenal but is now a regular and a key figure under Frank Lampard management.

“I can deal with negativity much better now I have grown up,” Iwobi told Liverpool Echo.

“When I was younger, I didn’t know how to handle those things. I completely switch off from football, I want my own space and thoughts, I don’t like to talk or have someone telling me what to do.

“I probably shouldn’t be saying this. but I would play football with my friends, especially when I wasn’t in the team. Little games, maybe twice a week, just to enjoy it. I never lost my love for football, even though I saw all the negativity.

“We played at a place in Manchester. I always wore a hat and snood, otherwise people would have recognised me. There were about 16 of us. At first, I knew about five people, but once I went regularly, I got to know everyone. It was good fun.”

“It felt like everyone wanted me to go,” Iwobi stated on his previous Everton struggles.

“They said, ‘If you want to play football, you would be better off on loan’. It was like, ‘You are not in our plans, try to prove yourself elsewhere’. I said I would rather take my chances and stay. I felt I had something to give and wanted to show my ability.

“The supporters were probably thinking, ‘We are better off getting someone who can do the job’. I was told in the past I wasn’t good enough. When I hear that it motivates me to try to prove my point.”

Iwobi assured the fans that he is here to stay and will renew his contract soon; “I want to win as many things as I can with this club. That is why I came here, the club was very ambitious and it still is. I’d like to stay.”