Odegaard: Will he lead Arsenal to the Premier League elite?

By on February 15, 2021

martin odegaard

There was a lot of speculation during the January transfer window regarding Arsenal’s move for Martin Odegaard before the transfer was officially announced. Well-known insider Fabrizio Romano reported that the decisive factor in the negotiations was a call to the player from Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Who is Odegaard?

Martin Odegaard played his first match in the Norwegian league at the age of just 15. The debut could have taken place earlier, but it was impossible because of the league’s regulations. At the same age, he became the youngest Norwegian footballer to ever play for the national team.

At the age of 16, he moved to Real Madrid for a record 3 million euros for a player of this age and became the youngest debutant for the Spanish giants. He was considered as one of the hottest prospects but failed to gain a foothold in the Madrid club. So now Arsenal already have an experienced player, despite him being only 22 years old.

Odegaard came to Arsenal immediately after the club offloaded Mesut Ozil. The German was not even included in Arteta’s Premier League squad after falling out of favour, despite a lack of creativity at the club. During the opening months of the season, Arsenal struggled to create chances and at one point were 16th in the table.

What do they say about Odegaard?

A solution was needed and TalkSport expert Arnold Clark believes Odegaard can correct the situation by giving Arsenal a creative edge in the final third – something Ozil should have provided. We can draw some similarities between the players, as they are both playmakers with excellent passing abilities.

Odegaard made his debut against Manchester United in the 83rd minute before also coming off the bench during the defeat to Aston Villa. The youngster then made his full debut with a start against Leeds United at the weekend. Arsenal went into the game as the 1.85 odds-on favourites, with Leeds priced at 4.10 to collect all three points. These odds were provided by Cloudbet – the sportsbook which offers football betting with Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies – and they proved right as Arsenal ran out 4-2 winners at the Emirates with Odegaard impressing in attack.

While Odegaard may not have shown his capabilities at Madrid, we’ve seen his potential during loan spells. Odegaard was a central figure during his time with Real Sociedad where he conducted the team’s attacks and provided 7 assists and scored 9 goals in 36 appearances. He is also considered a future leader of the Norwegian national team.

His good stats are also evidenced during his time with Dutch side Vitesse where he was playing on loan in 2018/19. Odegaard provided 11 goals and 12 assists in just 39 games with an average of 3.5 key passes per game. At Sociedad, it was 2 key passes per game. By contrast, Emile Smith-Rowe has averaged 1 key pass per game during his seven appearances this season.

As you can see, Odegaard has shown himself to be a supreme talent during his time on loan. He is fast, technically equipped, provides key passes, assists and goals. He’s a modern playmaker who also works hard for the team so Arsenal fans can be rightly excited about the impact he could have during his time in north London.

The main issue is how fast he can adapt to Premier League football as he doesn’t have a lot of time to get up to speed, but he’s already shown during his three appearances that he can have a positive impact. Many will question why he hasn’t made it at Madrid. Odegaard has been under huge pressure to succeed at the Bernabeu since joining the club and that expectation can weight heavy on his shoulders. He’s competing with experienced, world class players and has been unable to get a run of games under Zinedine Zidane.

The bottom line

The Norwegian had to be liberated. Every player coming to Real Madrid is under enormous pressure, under which even a superstar can have trouble (Eden Hazard is a clear example). So Arsenal seem like the perfect place for a young guy to prove himself. Both the club and the player now need each other.

Looks like they didn’t believe in Odegard in Madrid from the start. Odegaard appeared under Carlo Ancelotti and he noted that this transfer was rather a PR move. When Florentino Perez buys a Norwegian footballer, you just have to accept it. Although on the other hand, Pep Guardiola wanted to make Odegaard the best footballer in the world.

It seems that the level of Odegaard corresponds to Arsenal. The question is how much the club is willing to trust a man who will only come for a few months. Arsenal are still in the hunt for European football and Odegaard could play a vital role in securing it if Arteta gives him a key role.