Carlo Ancelotti attempted to explain why he left Martin Odegaard out of his squad for Real Madrid’s opening match of the season amid reports the 22-year-old is on the verge of joining Arsenal but he didn’t do a great job.

Martin Odegaard during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday May 6, 2021. Copyright: John Walton
Martin Odegaard during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday May 6, 2021. Copyright: John Walton

On Friday, the Martin Odegaard rumour mill kicked up several gears and all of a sudden we were hearing talk of Odegaard being close to a return to Arsenal with Real Madrid sanctioning his sale for somewhere between €40m and €50m, depending on where you do your reading.

Asked at his pre-match press conference why Martin Odegaard had been left out of the Real Madrid squad for this weekend’s league opener, and not registered with La Liga, Ancelotti said, “Like Vallejo’s issue, the fact of the non-registration is not a technical issue, but a circumstance of the moment, because we did not have the possibility to register everyone.

“It may be that tomorrow this changes. The final list is September 2.

“Odegaard has done well. I have spoken with him and I have told him that in the midfielder position there is a lot of competition, because we have eight very important players in this position. Nothing else.

“Like Ceballos and Vallejo, it is not a definitive dismissal. I had to register only two and I have chosen Jovic and Bale for the match. It is momentary.”

That’s hardly going to dampen much speculation, really, is it?

Arsenal have been linked with a host of attacking midfielders in this window but the one that Arteta wants more than any other is Martin Odegaard.

The Norwegian seemed set for a starring role at Real Madrid, according to the initial noises that were made when he returned to meet Carlo Ancelotti after the former Everton manager was re-installed as the Real Madrid boss.

Since then, however, it has felt like every day has brought a different story about Odegaard’s future, which is far from settled.

A report from AS claims that the player has given the go-ahead for a move to Arsenal, realising that it is best for his future.

That last one linked to an article that started, “Odegaard and Arsenal, very hot.

“The transfer is close to being closed, AS learned. The next few hours will be final to see if the Norwegian will return to London.”

The article has since been moved and given a different headline.

At the time of writing, Real Madrid have not yet even given Martin Odegaard a number for the new season. At first, with Dani Ceballos also still awaiting his, I thought it was a loan issue, but Gareth Bale has been given the 18 for his return from his loan with Tottenham.

The 21 that Odegaard wore before he joined Arsenal on loan has been given to Rodrygo.