What can Arsenal expect from the Norwegian prodigy Martin Ødegaard and why did he choose the Gunners over Real Sociedad or Ajax?
No sooner had one highly lauded playmaker, brought in from Real Madrid, walked out Arsenal’s front door, than another was ringing the bell to get in.
Despite interest from several leading European clubs, including Real Sociedad and Ajax, Martin Ødegaard has committed his future to Arsenal, at least for the next five months anyway.
What can Arsenal expect from the 22 year old Norwegian prodigy, and why did he choose the Gunners over returning to familiar surroundings like Sociedad or a club like Ajax that is renowned for getting the most out of emerging talent?
To answer this, we have to go back to the last time Arsenal signed a number 10 from the Bernabeu; Mesut Ozil.
When Ozil joined Arsenal in 2013, it was widely heralded as a statement from the club. Arsenal were leaving their money pinching years behind them and was moving forward into a world where they would be signing players of Ozil’s calibre on a regular basis.
But it wasn’t just Arsenal that was making a leap, it was the German as well.
The chance to lead a club with the stature of Arsenal back to glory, with himself as its best player, was too good an opportunity to turn down.
Ozil didn’t want to fit into a system anymore, he wanted the system to fit around him. He thought he was good enough to be the leader of a team that competed for trophies, and for the duration of his first contract at the club, he wasn’t far wrong.
At Fenerbache, Ozil will once again be going to a club that is desperate for him to lead them to glory, and good luck to him.
Martin Ødegaard now wants that same opportunity.
Martin Odegaard – Welcome to Arsenal pic.twitter.com/zpPxm9ThQ6
— TheGoalFactory (@thegoalfactoryx) January 24, 2021
Even though he’s only 22, this will be Ødegaard’s seventh season as a senior professional footballer. Despite moving to Real Madrid at 15, he’s been consistently shown the cold shoulder by a club that values the present over the future, and refuses to invest the time needed in young players like the Norwegian, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, Reguillon, Dani Ceballos, and others, to develop their game so they can become consistent performers.
In addition to this, any time Ødegaard has been selected for Real Madrid, it’s never been in his preferred position of number 10, primarily because Zinedane Zidane plays a 4-3-3 formation with a defensive midfielder at the base instead of an attacking midfielder at the head.
So, Ødegaard plays on the right wing, which he can do well, but it limits the amount of control he can exert over the course of a game.
Further hampering his ability to contribute is the fact that despite being an excellent dead-ball taker, Madrid have Toni Kroos, who is better. As a result, Ødegaard is often left on the periphery of games, constantly being asked to play second fiddle to the superstars around him.
At some point, that has to get tiresome.
It’s an easy pitch to sell; ‘Hi Martin, we’re one of the biggest clubs in world football, we’re rebuilding after a rough period, but we have a group of exceptionally talented young players who can play in multiple positions and have no issue with playing off the ball.
‘What they need is someone to link them all together. They need a number 10. Oh, and nobody at the club can take a corner, so you’ll be on them. Plus all our free kick takers focus on power and aren’t very efficient, so you’ll be at the front of the queue for those as well.
‘If you succeed and Madrid want to sell you, we can afford your wages. What do you say?’
It’s no secret that Arsenal desperately need someone of Ødegaard’s talent to come on board and help push the club back up the league table, but make no mistake, Ødegaard needs Arsenal just as badly.
He needs to show that he is good enough to have a team built around him, that he is a superstar player himself and not just a complementary player.
Ødegaard wants a chance to be The Man, and Arsenal want him to be proved right.