Everton simply must tie down influential midfielder Alex Iwobi to a new contract this summer, according to former Hibernian striker Tam McManus.

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The Lowdown: Iwobi an important player

The Blues are battling for their Premier League survival, currently sitting 15th in the table with 10 matches remaining, although those around them have a game in hand.

There are going to be some vital performers for Everton in the coming weeks and Iwobi is one of them, having become an increasingly important figure as time has passed.

The Nigerian has started all 28 of his side's league matches in 2022/23 to date, proving to be a favourite under both Frank Lampard and now Sean Dyche.

Iwobi has thrived as more of a central midfielder rather than a wide attacker, scoring once and registering six assists, not to mention averaging two tackles per game.

The 26-year-old's current Blues deal expires at the end of next season, however, meaning they would risk losing him on a free transfer at that point if he doesn't put pen to paper on a new contract.

The Latest: New deal incoming?

Speaking to Football Insider, McManus said it was a 'no-brainer' to hand Iwobi a contract extension at Goodison Park:

"I’ve been impressed by Iwobi this season, although I was disappointed by him when he first arrived under Frank Lampard. He has played every game this season for Everton.

"Started all 28 league games, so he’s obviously a critical player for the club. He needs to score more goals, that’s where he has to improve.

"Iwobi has only scored one this season and Everton will need more output from him. But it seems that Sean Dyche likes him and he’s entering the last year of his contract.

"He’s playing every week and he’s becoming a fan favourite at Goodison Park so it’s a no-brainer that they should tie him down to a long-term deal."

The Verdict: Makes complete sense

There are some expendable players at Everton who haven't proved their worth - Neal Maupay, for example, who has netted just once in 20 appearances this season - but Iwobi is a key player and someone whose services need to be retained moving forward.

Frank Leboeuf has hailed the 58-cap and 10-goal Nigeria international as 'exceptional' and his quality and energy are priceless in the middle of the park.

Iwobi also showed last season that he can deliver in huge moments, scoring a massive last-gasp winner at home to Newcastle United - the latest goal in Premier League history, in fact - and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him do similar this time around.