Martin Ødegaard: A Star Reborn at Arsenal?

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Does the young Norwegian star have a long-term future with Arsenal under Arteta?

Arsenal players in huddle after Premier League match

The football world is excited to see what Martin Ødegaard will do at Arsenal after an incredible loan spell at Real Sociedad. His performances in La Liga prove he has more to offer and also shows what he was missing at a big club like Real Madrid.

No Pressure Football

Real Sociedad is a club that neutral Spanish football fans are fond of, what they represent is good for football. A club owned by over 14,000 shareholders, with a strong connection to their fans and a focus on developing young talent.

So, for a city like San Sebastian that attracts many tourists, when a football player arrives who isn’t just passing through, there is a closer relationship.

For Martin Ødegaard this would’ve been really important for his development. It can be hard for players to deal with the pressure that comes with being labelled the next Messi and then to be bought by the biggest club in the world, Real Madrid, aged 15 – he wasn’t ready, so he was sent away.

In his second loan move to Vitesse in the Eredivisie league Ødegaard played 39 games averaging 85 minutes a game, making a respectable contribution of 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions for the season.

Then came his move to La Liga. The attacking midfielder was officially back on the footballing radar after delivering 7 goals and 9 assists in all competitions, averaging 81 mins a match over 36 games in a competitive league. This explosive season was well timed after Sociedad improved on 9th place to 6th which was their highest finish since 2013.

Arteta liked what he saw and brought him to London.

What Can We Expect From Ødegaard at Arsenal?

As an attacking midfielder his best quality is similar to the likes of David Silva or Mesut Ozil, which is being able to unlock defences in the final third.

For Ødegaard to be successful he has to be trusted as the leader, the ball needs to go through him. Like Ozil was for Arsenal and Silva for City.

These passing stats in the table below may help illustrate the kind of player Ødegaard is and what he can offer as a number 10. The stats should be interpreted as follows, Cmp = completed passes, Cmp% is completion rate, KP is passes that led directly to a shot and BoxP is completed passes that entered the 18-yard box.

Martin Odergard130880.9%6073792,527
Kevin De Bruyne229377.6%11113013202,791
Georginio Wijnaldum147790.7%1822402,935
James Maddison128276.6%8445632,624
Jack Grealish121779.1%9279853,233
Bruno Fernandes60871.3%3423871,186
Mason Mount111680.9%5334752,867
Stats for the 2019/20 Season.

The Norwegian international looks assured on the ball and confident in his decision making, he wants to create opportunities.

Drawing another similarity in Ødegaard with Silva and Ozil is his ability on the ball; he doesn’t need to be very strong because of his intelligent body positioning, it is difficult for defenders to get close and if they do the ball is already moved along.

Time For a Fresh Start

Ødegaard hasn’t played more than 500 minutes for Arsenal, with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe rightfully earning their places in the team he might have to wait a while longer.

However, Arsenal seemingly have little chance of a top 4 finish which could mean some football for the Norwegian and on this week he got his wish, playing 78 minutes vs Leeds and 73 minutes against Man City. 

Plus, it looks like Arteta wants Ødegaard long term, as he praised him for his “leadership” and “intelligence” on the pitch. 

Ødegaard still has two years left on his contract at Real Madrid but it’s rumoured he would like to move to London permanently, growing frustrated at Zidane’s lack of faith in him after he returned from his loan spell at Sociedad.

Either way, keep an eye out for Martin Ødegaard.

Matt takes inspiration from anything sport-related. Growing up (and still) playing Football, Tennis, Golf and Rugby, he developed a keen interest in the competitive nature of high-level sport. That said, Matt’s main focus is on football as it’s where his passion lies.

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