What Odegaard would bring to Arsenal

Arsenal are on the brink of completing a loan deal for Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard – but what could the one-time wonderkid bring to the Emirates Stadium and where would he fit into Mikel Arteta’s team?

The Norway international is now 22 but hit the headlines in 2015 when he was signed by Real as a 16-year-old, with comparisons to Lionel Messi being made about his ability.

While his career has not taken off as Messi’s did, his development has taken some encouraging strides forwards in recent seasons and Arteta and Arsenal supporters will be excited to see what he can produce in the Premier League.

Here, we take a look at some of the key questions around the switch…

Why are Real Madrid loaning Odegaard to Arsenal?

Odegaard has spent time on loan at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad since joining Real Madrid.

He was recalled to his parent club for this campaign after an impressive 2019/20 season at Sociedad with a view to becoming an important figure in Zinedine Zidane’s XI but, despite a promising start, he has fallen out of favour and has been pushing for a loan spell to earn more game time and continue his development.

It’s believed Odegaard’s first preference would have been a return to Sociedad, but with Real favouring a move outside of La Liga, Arsenal look set to capitalise.

Terry Gibson on the Transfer Talk podcast:

“This has been instigated by the player. He showed his credentials at Real Sociedad last season – he was one of the standout players in the whole La Liga campaign. It wasn’t such a big surprise that Real Madrid took him back; the surprise was that he’d done so well – I think that took Real Madrid by surprise. It was an easy choice to bring him back.

“But the relationship with Zidane hasn’t been perfect. Initially there was an improvement – he was playing and doing ok at the start of the season and there was a position for him in the system.

“But things have turned sour and he’s disappeared. There have been one or two niggly injuries but most of the time it’s because Zidane hasn’t chosen him.

“I believe it’s Odegaard insisting he doesn’t want to sit on the bench at Real Madrid. He doesn’t want to be another dependable squad player; he sees himself as being a star and he sees the path to that as playing regularly and he showed what he could do at Sociedad.”

What would Odegaard bring to Arsenal?

Martin Odegaard


Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero sees Martin Odegaard as a good replacement for Mesut Ozil

Terry Gibson on the Transfer Talk podcast:

“He’s an attacking midfield player – don’t expect too much defensively! He’s a player who can open up packed defences and he’s a player who has the quality to play regularly for Real Madrid, he’s that good.

“Would he suit Arsenal and the Premier League? I think he would. He’s a really good player; I think he has the quality to play for any of the big clubs in the Premier League.”

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

“What will Odegaard bring to the Premier League? Well, hype, hope and a lot of media attention for starters.

“The attention of the footballing world was centred on him in 2015 when, a month after his 16th birthday, Real Madrid won the race for his signature – and the interest in the now 22-year-old is set to ignite again.

“Back then, the anticipation of what Odegaard would become at the Bernabeu knew no bounds – but his progress, perhaps disappointingly for some, has been quieter since, as the gradual progression of a midfield technician has taken shape.

“Patience is paying off now, though. After an underwhelming 18-month loan spell at Heerenveen, Odegaard had a standout season at Vitesse in 2018/19, creating more chances than any other player in the Dutch top flight, and finishing third in the assists chart to Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech.

“He backed it up with an impressive season at Real Sociedad last year, when he hit double figures for goal contributions, and was recalled to Real Madrid as a result.

“While a way into Zidane’s line-up has ultimately been hard to find, Arsenal are now set to land a classy creator, a pass-master and an attacking midfielder with a fine touch and bright awareness of the game.

“Odegaard will bring excitement on the pitch as well as off it.”

Where would Odegaard fit in?

Mikel Arteta


Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says the club are ‘looking at options’ in the January windwo

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

“Emile Smith Rowe has provided an injection of creativity since breaking into the Arsenal team last month, producing three assists in five Premier League appearances from the number 10 position once occupied by the soon-to-depart Mesut Ozil.

“But at only 20 years old and with injury problems in his recent past, it would be risky to ask the academy graduate to bear the creative burden on his own. Odegaard looks an ideal candidate to share it.

“The Norwegian had to leave Spain for the Netherlands as a teenager for the good of his development, but loans with Heerenveen and Vitesse helped him mature and he showed just how far he has come during his excellent spell at Real Sociedad last year.

“Only five players, including Lionel Messi and Santi Cazorla, created more scoring chances than Odegaard in La Liga last season and the 22-year-old also ranked in the top 10 for successful dribbles.

Odegaard's favoured position is number 10 but he can play elsewhere too
Odegaard’s favoured position is number 10 but he can play elsewhere too

“Those qualities could prove invaluable for Arsenal in the role Smith Rowe is playing now but Odegaard also has the versatility to play elsewhere. He is capable of playing as a number eight in a 4-3-3 formation and during his season with Vitesse, he provided regular stream of goals and assists from the right flank.

“Much will depend on how he adapts to English football, of course. From Kim Kallstrom to Denis Suarez, Arsenal’s recent history is a reminder that January loan signings do not always work out.

“But Odegaard certainly has the ingredients to help Arteta’s side build on their recent improvement in the final third – be that at number 10, number eight or on the right flank.”

Terry Gibson on the Transfer Talk podcast:

“Will Arsenal find a place on a weekly basis for Odegaard? I’m not sure they will because of the position he plays in. Smith Rowe has come into the team and is flying.

“Odegaard has to choose not the glamorous option but the place where he goes and plays 25, 30 games until the end of the season. I’m not sure if that will happen at Arsenal.”

Where is Odegaard’s long-term future?

Arsenal are looking to sign Odegaard on a loan deal until the end of the season – but, if all goes well, what are the chances of them extending that into another season or even a permanent deal?

There is no formal option to buy in the agreement with Real Madrid and, according to Gibson, the player’s long-term ambition remains to become a star at the Bernabeu.

“I think Odegaard sees his long-term future at Real Madrid – probably after Zidane has moved on,” said Gibson.

Odegaard signed a contract extension with Real Madrid at the start of last season which would keep him at the Spanish club until 2023 – so it could take a substantial amount of money to buy him on a permanent deal.


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