Is Odegaard the real deal? by Guy
Having followed the career of Martin Odegaard since his prodigal teenage days with Real Madrid and Norway, I like many was excited when he joined on loan deal in January last season. Although technically superb and a useful contributor to the team he was not by any means the star man over that period. Too easily brushed off the ball, reluctant to use his right foot, relatively slow, not a natural tackler or finisher – all of these weaknesses were summarised in the oft-used comment that he was a lower level luxury player who did not contribute enough to the team.
In the summer window Arteta paid just under £30 million to buy him. Some were delighted but there were a sizeable minority who disagreed – citing players such as Maddison, with a bigger goals tally (at more than twice the price) or a more defensive minded player (ESR was all we needed) as better buys. Mentioned were Neves, Bissouma and others.
Fast forward to this February. Odegaard frequently covers the most yards in the team, almost as a box to box player. He is no longer easily shoved of the ball, is not particularly slow or sluggish. He tackles well, is the fulcrum of our offensive play and has a telepathic understanding with Saka. He organises the midfield and attack as well as being Arteta’s voice on the pitch. He is poetry to watch and is the oil in our engine. He is Norway’s captain with almost 40 caps at 23 years old, and along with Saka is the key to our successful future. He is a super-talented, intelligent and conscientious player who, now that he has at last found his home, is blossoming and will only get better.
But whereas Saka is universally acknowledged as being priceless, as recently as a week ago Odegaard was still being called overrated and unproductive by some on this site. I would be interested to hear who thinks we should have spent the £30 million on another player and why, who is still undecided, and who like me is convinced that Odegaard is “the real deal”?
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