Martin Odegaard is set to join Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid, as the Gunners strengthen their attacking midfield area following the departure of Mesut Ozil.
The Norwegian playmaker was brought back from his loan at Real Sociedad a year early as Zinedine Zidane looked to bolster his squad in the summer despite financial restrictions due to COVID-19.
After starting the season relatively well, Odegaard minutes and role in the squad have diminished following Real Madrid’s poor performances. Zidane has opted for more experience in his side to get them back on track, and the 22-year-old was one of the casualties.
He reportedly asked to be allowed to leave the club on loan to get more regular game time and Zidane approved his request.
It was expected that he would return to Real Sociedad, with the club keen to bring him back and the player keen to return. However, Arsenal stepped into the equation and the conversation quickly changed.
It’s reported that after speaking directly with manager Mikel Arteta, Odegaard changed his mind and became all in on the Arsenal project and he will now head to the Emirates Stadium instead.
His arrival will dovetail perfectly with the exit of Ozil, who completed a switch to Fenerbahce over the weekend. The German hasn’t featured in a game since March, and was left out of the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads entirely when the new season began.
Arsenal struggled heavily with creativity up until recently, when the introduction of Emile Smith Rowe to the side coincided with an upturn in form and results.
The young Hale End graduate has been excellent since coming into the side and his development should be high up on the agenda of Arsenal, but Odegaard is a special talent.
He made his debut at the age of just 15 and has performed during all his loan spells too, which is what convinced Real Madrid to bring him back early. His vision, passing and movement are exactly what Arsenal had been missing, and it’s not unfair to say that his level right now is above that of Smith Rowe’s.
The opportunity to sign a player as good as him doesn’t come up often and Arsenal have done well to beat opposition to his signature. One concern could be that the loan is a straight six-month deal with no option to buy, meaning the club are opting to develop Real Madrid’s young playmaker rather than their own.
With that said, Arteta will likely use both players and Smith Rowe can learn and develop without the pressure on his shoulders that he currently has. Odegaard’s arrival will take the limelight away from Smith Rowe and Saka a little bit more and he will burden that responsibility.
Arsenal are signing a top player who will boost their hunt for European football next season, while a top prospect gets regular minutes. Everybody wins.