A look at Odegaard – The teenage prodigy that hasn’t yet hit the heights

Who Is Martin Odegaard? By Dan Smith

I’m not one of these gooners who is going to pretend that two months ago I knew who Martin Odegaard was. I don’t remember my peers ever mentioning him as an Arsenal transfer target until the media did.

I do remember the attention he got that all youngsters get when they sign for Real Madrid. Back then it was big sporting news in Norway as his latest move will be because this is a talent the country’s been obsessed with since he was a teenager.

As much as we need to focus on ability good enough to be at the Bernabeau in the first place, we have to question why now at 22 he’s failed to break into their first team! Equally while a loan at Real Sociedad was a success, why were stays in other parts of Europe not?

To give you an idea of the high hopes put on him at youth level; at the age of 10 his club Stromsgodet promoted him up by two age groups, which the Norwegian FA copied when organising district teams.

At 18 he was awarded the Statoil award which gave him celebrity status to those in his homeland even if they didn’t like football. Statoil are one of the richest companies in the world, who sponsor young talent with a prize of funding

At only 15, he became the youngest player to start and score in the Tippleligaen (Norway first division). This prompted a nationwide debate. Would it be unfair to put the pressure of international football on such young shoulders?

At 15 years, 253 days, Odegaard became the youngest to get a senior cap. Think how everyone talked about the emergence of Wayne Rooney in England. That was now the level of attention a 15-year-old was getting in Norway, with a ‘who’s who’ of football (including us) inviting him for trials.

At 16, Real Madrid paid 3 million – rising to 8 million, starting the kid in their B team, managed by Zidane at the time. It remains the biggest fee Stromsgodet have ever received, and if the midfielder wasn’t already a celebrity in Norway, he was now that he was joining the most famous club in the world.

There’s no disgrace to struggle to break into a midfield of Ronaldo, Bale and Modric. Real had always maintained he was a signing for the future, but the Spanish press (aware of the hype) were less patient. They started to write stories of the language and culture change being an issue.

He had to wait until the final game of the season (with La Liga won) to become their youngest ever player to feature in the League.

22 months after joining, he finally started his first game for the senior team.

At 18 it was natural he would be playing mostly for the B team but in the Spanish and Norwegian press it was built as some sort of failure on his part.

Cue stories about being home sick and not settled. For the first time he realised how ruthless the media can be, the same media that built him up. While not playing first team football he wasn’t considered for his national team either.

Real insisted plans to loan the player were all part of his development and not a reflection on his ability.

His form for Heerenveen and then Vitesse was enough to get him recalled for the national team.

A loan to Real Sociedad was make or break in terms of proving if he was now mature enough to adapt to Spanish football?

Up till the first lockdown, Sociedad were viewed as one of the most entertaining teams to watch in La Liga, with Odegaard at the heart of it. In a bizarre yet crucial moment in his career, he scored and was the star performer when he knocked his parent club out of the Copa Del Rey.

Disappointed to go out at the quarter finals, Madrid fans comforted themselves with the knowledge that one of the league’s best talents would be their player again in the summer. After all that was the intention of the loan.

It was assumed in pre-season that Real would break up their ageing midfield by using the likes of Ceballos and Odegaard. Part of the reason it is believed that Zidane’s job is on the line is his refusal to do so. With finances tight due to zero match day revenue, the president was hopeful of youngsters now getting a chance instead of reliance on the same old names.

Now in his 4th loan, by the time he returns to Spain he might have a new manager willing to break up the old guard.

Madrid have again stressed that this short-term deal doesn’t mean the end of his career.

Yet the Norwegian will feel he proved last season he was good enough, so if he were to light up the Premiership as well, at 22 he might not want to wait around much longer. He’s an example to youngsters of what can go wrong when joining a huge institution so soon.

He would have been better off being at a smaller club but playing all the time instead of at Real, who like to stockpile talent. They have no intention of starting Odegaard but are scared to let others have him just in case he achievs his potential.

There’s zero guarantees.

Arsenal’s recent record when it comes to loans has been poor. Suarez was a similar story. A player not playing at Barcelona who could reinvent himself at the Emirates. It didn’t happen.
Ceballos’s FA Cup final performance earnt him a second loan, but he hasn’t done enough for a permanent move or a place in Real’s first team.

Odegaard might take a while to struggle with the English culture like he did the Spanish? (his first choice was to stay in Spain)

What I do know is in terms of picking the right club to show case his talent we tick all the boxes. We are renowned for playing the style of football he’s used to and which Arteta insists he wants to play. We lack creatively so there is room in the team for him to be the main man.

Also it seems that Arteta and Edu are long term admirers of the player.

Would Arsenal have been interested if we had to pay a transfer fee?

With Arsenal 8th in the League, do I wish a Billionaire owner would show more ambition than loans?

Will we save money this January? Of course.

Yet none of that is Odegaard’s fault, and it doesn’t mean he can’t be better then what we have?

We can but hope.

Be Kind In The Comments


READ MORE: What the Spanish papers are saying about Odegaard today

Tags Norway odegaard Real Madrid


  1. We’ll get the chance to sign him permanently only if Zidane stays.
    Everyone at Madrid rates him highly, the club chose to recall him back from loan, but Zidane ain’t moving from his midfield pair of Kroos and Modric (who I read might be getting a new contract soon)
    Zidane even prefers to keep Isco.
    Seems he prefers the old and matured players in his midfield.
    Only yesterday the amount of meltdown I saw from Madrid fans about letting MØ go was alarming and made me more interested in seeing him play.
    A whole lot of them are mad and angry they let him go even on loan while they news fresh midfielders.
    It’s all Zidane TBH, there could be a chance, because Zizou wants Camavinga, and is an admirer of Pogba.

    Personally I don’t like this good relationship brewing between Arsenal and Madrid. They’ll come for Martinelli when he hits new heights again. Their love for Brazilians isn’t secret. I’ve read couple of their fans mentioning Martinelli first before Saka.
    I feel like the good relationship between both clubs could lead to them taking one of our youngsters in the future too

    1. If the price is right and they want to go then we need to let them leave…

      The core of our poor selling over the last 2 decades has been holding onto players that we are desperate to keep and pin all of our hopes on.

      Do you want to lose them? Of course not but life goes on without them. We need to start acting like a big club. Rather have money to buy a new player than have no money and an unmotivated player that drains Arsenal’s wages and morale.

    2. A friend of mine, a Madrista, told Ödegaard was fantastic last season with Sociedad. My friend said he is not happy how Zidane treats younger players in the team and was definitely not happy Ödegaard hasn’t played for Real this season.

      I wouldn’t look too much into how some managers treat certain players. Pulis didn’t care for Gnabry AT ALL. Lucas Digne wasn’t appreciated at Barcelona and yet, he’s very formidable at Everton.

      1. Martin Odegaard is a class player. I have followed his career since he came to prominence in Norway, hoping Arsenal would scout him. Zidane is the problem in his personal preferences in midfield and his managerial tenure at Real Madrid rests on results.
        Odegaard as a Norwegian, would find it easier from a cultural/language perspective to settle in England compared to Spain. If he has a successful loan spell, he may hopefully wish to make the loan spell with Arsenal permanent.

  2. Need to let him start from the get go….this rubbish of slowly introducing players to the EPL as they find their feet cannot work with a 6 month loan.

    Start him at least every second game or why bother with a 6 month loan.

  3. Can we talk about Martinez letting in 2 easy goals yesterday? Second was a howler – he let in a cross.

    Had it been Leno, we would still be arguing here how we sold the wrong keeper!

    Moral of the story: there was nothing wrong selling Martinez and keeping Leno.

    1. The fans who’ve been complaining about Martinez sale must remember that we traded Martinez with Partey

  4. I have no doubt about his close control skill, but I hope his work ethic is as good as Smith-Rowe’s and he can be as versatile as Saka. We don’t need an attacking midfielder who can only play in one position and the one who’s unwilling to do duels

    1. I think in addition to CAM, he’s played quite a lot on the right side of midfield. Keeping in mind the non-existence of Willian, it’s a welcome addition.

      1. Willian might play better if he starts behind Lacazette. His ball recovery rate is lower and his reaction is slower than Smith-Rowe’s, but he tried hard to help his teammates

        1. gotanidea, Martin Odegaard has an all round footballing skill set; excellent without the ball as he is with it.

  5. I’ve followed his progress from the time that big clubs were vying for his signature (Arsenal included). Given Zidane’s preference of Modric and Kroos in midfield, it’s hard to see him breaking into that team in the mean time. However Kroos is 31 and Modric 35 (Modric extended his contract a few days ago). Breaking into that Madrid team is hard for even world class players, let alone a 22 year old still to find his peak and competing with Modric and Kross. They might still have a few years to go. So I’m hoping it turns into another Hakimi situation where Madrid end up selling.

    To be honest, I also don’t think Ceballos will ever be a start for Madrid.

  6. Odegaard is a good player. If he is used properly he will move us forward.

    The most important thing I want from him is providing us with a few goals and assist which will be vital for our climb up the table and how far we can go in the Europa League.

  7. First thing to say is that Odegaard is a completely different person from Ceballos and Suarez , so any comparaison to eitherrof them is compleetly pointless. I see no reason for DAN to even mention them therefore.
    Next point is that he clearly has talent in bundles or he woul dnot have thr background he has. Much will depend on how much and how soon he feels comfortable andat hom ein London andwith us. MA has IMO ( and here I completely differ from those idiots who diss his man management skills) enormous coaching and interpersonal skills and I am very hopeful that we will see a special talent thrive in our team.
    Finally, whther or not we can ever BUY this young man permanently depends on Kroenke and on that, I am not hopeful for after this season.

  8. No doubts about his qualities he has it all only worry is recent lack of game time and will need time to adapt to the pace of prem league football so doubt he will hit the ground running straight away but given time believe he will be a success!!

  9. The guy is immense! He reminds me of Debruyne with a mixture of Fabrigas. Real will want him back though or at least want BIG cash for him.

    Right now I hope he sucks big time for us and Real sell him cheap to us in the summer. Then next year he can “Un-suck” and be the player we all know he can be! 🙂

  10. Hard to get playing time behind Modric and Kroos. Also Isco in the mix too.

    He has quality no doubt; good goals and assists. He can score and create, and was a key piece for his loan team last year.

    He can interchange with ESR and Saka, like Pepe did with ESR last match.

    The unknown for me is defensively; tracking back, pressing, etc… Will he do the dirty work and play a complete game like Saka and ESR.

  11. Real Madrid has a trunk load of young players with huge potential but Zidane clearly prefers experienced players. We can establish a relationship. Might be a chance for us to snatch some of their talents up cheap and if they want to return to real in the future sell them for a big profit. If they fell in love with us even better.

  12. He is no longer a teenager cos he is 22.

    These are better formations with Odegaard in the team:



















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