‘He shouldn’t be playing’ Merson has his say on permanent Odegaard move

Paul Merson says he hopes Arsenal has already made a bid to keep Martin Odegaard with them permanently and if there is no possibility of that happening, then he shouldn’t be playing.

Odegaard has become a key member of the current Arsenal team and the club hopes to keep him beyond this season.

But that isn’t in their hands because the deal that brought him to London was a simple loan for the rest of the season.

His fine form might tempt Madrid to give him another chance next season, but Merson hopes he is staying.

He says he would be disappointed if Arsenal hasn’t informed Madrid of their intention to sign him permanently yet.

He then adds that the midfielder shouldn’t be given so much responsibility and opportunities if the club has no permanent plans for him.

This is because fielding him so often is taking away valuable game time from Emile Smith Rowe.

‘Martin Odegaard looks a really good player and I hope Arsenal have a chance of signing him permanently,’ Merson told Starsport

‘Because if they don’t have a chance of making his loan permanent next season, why is he playing?

‘If they know he doesn’t want to stay, he shouldn’t be playing because he’s taking opportunities away from people like Emile Smith Rowe.

‘So I hope Arsenal have done their homework and know what the situation is – I’d be disappointed if they haven’t already made a bid to be honest! 

‘It took him a while to adjust but you have to give him the ball. He gets into lots of good positions, and to start with his team-mates weren’t seeing him. 

‘They weren’t giving him the ball. But now he’s getting it more often and he’s making things happen. He can hurt opposing teams.

‘It’s almost a free role and for someone so young to be trusted with such a difficult position at such a young age is a big deal. 

‘But if he’s okay after his injury and he helps Arsenal win the Europa League, Real Madrid will probably want him back – or add a lot more money to his asking price.’

Tags Martin Odegaard Paul Merson


  1. Certainly not always the case with Merse, but on this occasion he’s clearly a voice of reason

  2. Hard to disagree with Merson’s take on the situation; however number one priority is to select players to win games, while protecting the development of young players, like Emile Smith Rowe. It is silly to have ESR play every game and risk injury, as Arsenal needs him fitter, stronger and more confident and competent next season.

    1. he should only play in the Europa competition, if it’s been determined that he won’t be available come the off-season…as for ESR, we need to address this injury-prone narrative sooner rather than later…it’s almost like he needs to build up some “calluses” so he can better handle the riggers of first-team football(in other sports, especially American football and hockey, it’s known as learning how to play “hurt”)…if he can’t, it would be best to know that now, so we can act accordingly, instead of relying, once again, on someone we can’t truly rely upon…

      1. If only footballers could be covered in padding and protection and wear helmets like the big tough guys.

        May be they could then learn to play hurt. 🤔

        1. you’ve got a lot to learn bud…maybe once you’ve personally experienced both forms of football, like myself, you would have a better understanding of what exactly I’m referring to…it certainly wasn’t meant to be a disparaging commentary on traditional football or the players therein

          1. “Both forms of football”? If you want to say that any sport with football in its name is a type of football then what about Rugby football and Aussie-rules football (there may even be more that i can’t think of off the top of my head)? At the end of the day there’s only one football though!

      1. Thanks, Sue.
        With regard to TRVL’s comment about “players learning to play hurt”, I disagree because this can lead to aggravating injury or causing complications. I think what TRVL is referring to with developing “calluses” is targetted specialised strengthening and conditioning training to make a player less susceptible to injury. Young players like ESR, Saka and Martinelli are still youths, continuing to grow, develop physically and fill out. Specialised strengthening and conditioning training can improve strength and resilience without sacrificing speed and agility. Association Football can learn a lot from the Rugby codes and Australian Rules in this regard.
        Despite what Atid and Argooners may think, players in these codes generally wear little padding (none in the case of Australian Rules); however like football strapping is important.

    2. ozzie, I rarely take issue with you, but on Merses clearly naive statement I do so. I suggest you may care to read my own very differEnt and fully explained take on why I say MERSE IS WRONG(below).

  3. I get his point, but Odegaard has been on fire, so why not play him? Secondly, if we want ANY chance of resigning him, even on loan, then we have to use him.

    ESR needs competition, and has looked a little tired over the last month or so.

  4. I think he is committed to RealMadrid for more two years,if Arsenal succeed to renew his loan for one more year,then the chances of signing him permanently will increase upon his last year,if he won’t extend his contract of course.Real Madrid agreed to let Kovasic book permanently for Chelsea in a similar situation.

  5. I can understand Merson’s nuanced point.
    I really like Odegaard but if he ain’t gonna be permanent then may be we should continue to blend our own into the team right now.

    We have got nothing to play for in the league so may be we should play our own players (ESR) in their preferred position.
    Then may be in the EL where we have something to fight for we can use Odegaard to help us compete.

    But at the same time I am really enjoying watching young man play. He is so smooth, silky, hardworking, talented and seems to have leadership skills (Leads by example).

    1. Goonster I am very disappointed to read that you consider Merses comment a “nuanced” one. It is anything but nuanced and is very naive . Please scroll down to read my own detailed take on Merse and on his daft statement and then reconsider your position. I suggest you are not thinking deeply enough, and neither is MERSE!

  6. I get where he is coming from but hes been our best player recently and starting him gives us the best chance of qualifying for the champions league. If he wins the europa league with us it might be catalyst for him to stay and the money we get from winning it could pay his fee. Odegaard and champions league football who’s to say we couldn’t convince Halaand to come as well.

  7. Why not rotate them, ESR can’t play every game and he will learn off odegarrd who is a couple of years older,
    Tierney needs someone to rotate with him and get a rest, even if we can’t keep odegarrd, ESR will be even better next season. ..

  8. Liverpool is hovering around and we should make sure they don’t get him
    He likes Arteta and has turned to love the club so just may be

  9. Complete non sense from Merse if Arsenal wanted to sign him permanently making their intentions known too soon will show how eager willing they are not what you want when working on a deal as for ESR development he is still very young and now playing on the left side something he tends to do a lot when playing in the middle i also remember AW saying it was good for young CAM to play on the sides because it helps them hone their skills like close control speed /decision making.. and that once they move back in the middle they find it much easier they tend to have more time on the ball and a better vision.

  10. Paul Mersonhas amply proved over his long TV career and with his unintentionally mangling the English language, even though often with welcome comic effect, that he is not blessed with great IQ.
    BUT, when it comes to understanding nuances and shades of grey in how managers and clubs are forced to act , esp in this financially frugal time causedby Covid, his obvious lack of REAL IQ, at a higher level than merely being a court jester – or as they were known back then – a “fool”, is laughable.

    He seems to be seriously suggesting that right NOW our club should play its hand to RM, when all wise and proper thinking fans know full well that a game of bluff and counter bluff is still to come in negotiations this summer.
    There are so many othe related factors to any possible permanent Odegaard transfer still to be played out before ANYONE knows for certain IF we can sign him permanently, that to do what Merse says and do so now would be incredibly stupid.
    Rather like getting dealt a great hand in poker but then shouting out to all players what you have been dealt BEFORE THE GAME EVEN BEGINS. I do not say Merse is totally without brains though; even to earn a living as a “court jester” means keeping your namein the public eye and how better to do so than make public daft but noticeable statements!


    1. jon, reading your response, I don’t see anything to disagree with, unless you are arguing that Arsenal should terminate the loan or retain Odegaard and pay him, but not select him to play, because ultimately he is contracted to RM for a further two years?
      I agree Arsenal shouldn’t be too enthusiastic in showing interest, but other sharks are circling.

      1. ozzie it was simply MERSE saying we should play our hand now and you saying that was right that made me post as I did. I am massively in favour of us attempting to land ODEGAARD and PERMANENTLY I hope.

        No wise club gives away their negotiating hand well in advance. IF other clubs land him and we cannot afford it , then sadly, so be it. But giving the game away to RM now remains a daft and naive policy , which we will NOT follow. Of THAT I am certain.

        The fact that we wanted him in thefirst place tells RM we rate him and us acting a sham by leaving him out now would fool no one , but simply bemuse and upset the player AND weaken the team. PROPER IQ is so important in negotiating all payment matters.

        What a shame the damaging GAZIDIS WAS HERE SO LONG TO WREAK SUCH ENORMOUS AND LONG LASTING DAMAGE. An owner who cared enough to be on the ball would have sacked him long before he, far too late, left.

  11. Arsenal recruited Odegaard on loan because they felt they desperately needed a creative midfielder and did not have the resources to buy him or a comparable player.He has proved to be a sensible investment and as far as I am aware the loan arrangement is not subject to any obligations to buy/sell on either side.In these circumstances and given that the young Norwegian is doing well, why would Arteta upset the lad and Real Madrid by not playing him?Like JonF , I really wonder about the mentality of Merson at times.

  12. All of these is nonsense.
    You get a.player on loan to play and help the team. And if he is proving to be much capable of doing that better than what you already have, it is a great plus.
    There is no sense in paying him and not playing him just because you suspect you have no chance of signing him.
    That’s an upside down brain settings.

    More so, you are sending a wrong signal to the player and killing any chance of him considering staying if ever he was considering that.

    Arsenal had to call out Athletical Madrid for not playing Lucas Torreira.

    Let no one and Merson in particular have a ‘brain fart’ over a player playing well for us just because we only have a slim chance of retaining his services going forward.

    That’s cynical.

  13. ‘Because if they don’t have a chance of making his loan permanent next season, why is he playing? all comments must take this very premise into account when critiquing the matter at hand…he clearly states that Ode shouldn’t be playing IF we have NO chance of signing him permanently, which makes any point regarding “showing our hand”, a ridiculous counterpoint anyways, a moot point..my only exception, understanding the actual facts as Merse presented them, is that he should be allowed to play in Europa, as that would be intimately tied to our potential financial capacity to properly replace him, since it would be presumed that he wouldn’t be returning

    1. TRVL But you are jumping the gun, if we do as you suggest. No one knows RIGHT NOW if we have a serious chance to sign him permanently OR to arrange another loan. Or neither! There are lots of other factors, esp financial ones, concerning both clubs twixt now and the end of this season, which could swing things oither way.

      So to do as you suggest, as Merse is also saying and to assume we are not going to sign him in ANY FORM, IS UNREALISTIC. We just don’t know right now, so a wise club will keep its cards close to its chest and not reval its hand until we need to. Reality and common sense!

      1. he was simply suggesting IF the club knew that was the case then they should adjust their decision-making process for the remainder of the season

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