Louis van Gaal had plenty of praise for Martin Odegaard, with Norway facing off against the Netherlands over the international break.

Martin Odegaard of Arsenal during the Carabao Cup match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England on 25 August 2021. Copyright: David Horn
Martin Odegaard of Arsenal during the Carabao Cup match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England on 25 August 2021. Copyright: David Horn

In the match to essentially determine which of the two sides made the World Cup next winter, the Netherlands defeated Norway over the international break.

Louis van Gaal was asked about the top players in the Norway side, and he had good things to say about Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard.

“Odegaard is very creative, and has very good passing,” van Gaal said. “He can play the ball where he wants. When a player demands the ball in a good position, he (Odegaard) can give the ball.

“And he’s a team player. He stays a team player, and that is very good.”

That’s nice to hear, as there’s a sense at Arsenal that we’re still waiting for Odegaard to fully get going since his permanent return to the club.

The 22-year-old had some really positive moments early on, such as his assist on his return debut against West Bromwich Albion, or his free-kick goal against Burnley.

He then went off the boil for a couple of games in October, and he found himself behind Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order.

The midfielder seemed to be back on form against Watford, and he may have had a goal if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hadn’t poked his effort in from an offside position. But Odegaard now has to recover from the setback of Norway missing the World Cup.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal shoots during the warm up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal shoots during the warm-up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on October 02, 2021. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

The ex-Real Madrid man’s form has come under extra scrutiny for a few reasons.

Firstly, Real Madrid are determined to act as though they made the right decision letting him leave, so the media in Spain are going to jump on any sign of weakness.

Then there’s the fact Arsenal are struggling to rack up the goals as effectively as most of the other top Premier League teams, and that puts pressure on creative midfielders like Odegaard.

Odegaard taking on the captain’s armband for Norway is also only going to add to the intensity of the focus on his performances.

Lastly, it probably doesn’t help his cause that the rest of Arsenal’s summer signings are doing really well.

Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Albert Sambi Lokonga have all made themselves starters, and Nuno Tavares seems to be providing real competition to Kieran Tierney as well.

For the last couple of games, Odegaard has been the only one not starting matches.

The young Norweigan certainly has the talent to come through all that, as van Gaal highlights. If he does, it will be a big boost for Arsenal.