Martin Odegaard joins Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid

“I spoke to him before coming here, of course,” Odegaard said. “That was very important…

“I spoke to him before coming here, of course,” Odegaard said. “That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is.” 

“He gave me a great feeling and that was important for me to come here. He was crucial. I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good.” 

“I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it’s a club that really suits me well. So I think it’s a good match.”

Edu, Arsenal’s technical director, described Odegaard as an “exceptional talent” and an “exciting offensive player”.

Arteta added: “Martin is of course a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we’re all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May.”

A left-footed number 10 with an eye for a pass, Odegaard plays with a guile that will be familiar to those who have watched Mesut Ozil over the years. He searches for those same half-spaces in the final third, often drifting into the inside right position, and looks to play the same type of defence-splitting passes that Ozil would regularly produce at his peak.

The hope, on Arsenal’s part, is that Odegaard will therefore help to fill some of the creative void that has existed since Ozil’s exclusion from Arteta’s team. The original plan was that Willian, signed from Chelsea in the summer, might help in this regard. Halfway through the season, it is safe to say that has not worked out.

In recent weeks Arsenal have instead relied on young Emile Smith Rowe to shoulder much of the creative burden, and he has excelled. A 20-year-old cannot be asked to lead the attack every week, though. He needs help, and Arsenal need more ideas in the final third. A creative playmaker has been their primary target for this window, and Odegaard (who is joining on loan until the end of the season) is arguably the most exciting option that was available to them.

Despite those similarities with Ozil, Odegaard is not the same player. Off the ball, especially, the Norwegian will be expected to offer a significantly greater level of energy and work rate than Ozil could muster in these past few seasons.

Odegaard follows Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan in joining the club until the end of the current campaign. He will link up with fellow Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos but Arsenal have no option to buy either player this summer.

While Odegaard is not injured, it would be a surprise to see him start against Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday given his lack of first-team football at Madrid in recent weeks.

Odegaard’s lack of action this season (he has started just five matches) will raise concerns about his fitness and his readiness to make an impact, however. The last thing Arsenal want is a repeat of the dreadful Denis Suarez loan in January 2019. But if Odegaard can replicate the form he showed on loan at Real Sociedad last season, he could be a potentially game-changing addition to Arteta’s side.

A teenage prodigy, who made his Norway debut at the age of just 15, Odegaard has needed time to reach a point where he is considered ready for Premier League football. He has had loan spells at Heerenveen, Vitesse Arnhem and Sociedad, growing in stature in each season.

Last season, at Sociedad, he was one of the Spanish league’s most effective creative talents. Only five players created more chances in La Liga, and one of those was Lionel Messi. Over the course of the league campaign he created an average of 2.2 chances per 90 minutes, and in all competitions he managed seven goals and nine assists.

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