Martin Ødegaard, Real Madrid’s child prodigy has become the Gunners maestro

“Everything he does with or without the ball is a hat! » It seems a long time ago when Martin Odegaard’s skin was not approved for the label of eternal wonder. Mikel Arteta’s words speak volumes for the maestro the elegant Norwegian attacking midfielder has become, whose silky left foot has wowed Arsenal fans for weeks after the match. On 17 December 2016, while still making his mark with Real Madrid Castilla and continuing his training that was destined to make him a big Real Madrid star, Ødegaard celebrated his 18th birthday and reached his senior year. 6 years later, at the age of 24, he can proudly boast that he has reached the maturity that Casa Blanca has been waiting for and waiting for so many years.

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Recruited by Real for €2.8m in January 2015, aged just 16, Drammen has done nothing but a string of loan spells (Heerenveen, Vitesse Arnhem, Real Sociedad) without finding a place in the Santiago Bernabéu side (11). games, replacing a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in May 2015, after making his debut at 16 years and 157 days). His fortunes clearly changed when he joined the Gunners in January 2021, still on loan. In just 6 months, Martin Ødegaard convinced Mikel Arteta to sign decisively to entrust him with the keys to the polished game put in place by the Spaniard.

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Especially thanks to the remarkable work of Edu, the sporting director of the London club, the Merengues released the Norwegian for “only” 35 million euros. A ridiculous amount for the player’s talent and performance, but also often insane market prices. In his first full season in England, Ødegaard initially struggled to get his talent talking to Arsenal, before gaining momentum as a timid orchestra conductor searching for the ideal note to find his groove.

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As a cannon ball at the end of the 2021-2022 financial year, the former Madrid player is now the flagship of the Gunners, dictating the game with precision and beauty, while sublimating it with openings or dribbles he possesses alone. mystery. His new status as Arsenal captain may have contributed to this radical transformation over the course of a few months, although he wore a bandage on his arm when Lacazette was replaced at the end of last season. “I feel he’s grown in the sense that he’s more comfortable with the press and it’s in line with how his coaches (Arteta and Solbakken) describe him in the dressing room.journalist Mats Arntzen analyzes for VG Sports in Norway. They respect him a lot because he is very calm, very mature and has a great knowledge of football. »

An increasingly influential captain

On the ground, this change is felt more than ever. Where Ødegaard struggled to make a difference in the final third, he is now a decisive, intimidating and fearsome element in the decisive zone. Proof by the numbers: this season Ødegaard has 0.66 Expected Goals (xG) per game (90 min), which is almost double compared to last season (0.35 xG/game). Only three Premier League players, Erling Haaland (24), Harry Kane (16) and Ivan Toni (15) have scored more goals than Martin Ødegaard (12) this year. Foot Mercato He met shortly before the start of the season in England.

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“I think Arteta has already said he wants him to be more involved in the box. He did it himself. He knows that if you want to make your name among the best players in the world, you have to score goals and provide assists. If you look at his goals and assists projections, the numbers are improving. It’s part of his role in a well-functioning team. It’s easier for him if he can trust the defenders and defensive midfielders to distribute the ball in more dangerous areas.”explains to our Norwegian colleague about his compatriot.

Ødegaard has been knighted by Arsene Wenger

If Arsenal are at the top of the Premier League, it is partly due to the remarkable performances of their No. 8 team, who were named the league’s Player of the Month for November-December, with 3 goals and 3 assists. 4 games, bringing his total to 7 achievements and 5 offers since the start of the season. Martin Ødegaard also became the first ‘Player of the Month’ for the Cannoniers since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in September 2019.

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“He’s really like a young Cesc Fabregas, I think he’s become a complete playerArsene Wenger analyzed by Norwegian media TV2recalled that he desperately tried to sign him as a 15-year-old before he left for Real Madrid. He is a very calm player who analyzes the game well, I am very impressed. He is really down to earth and nice guy. The way he analyzes the game. And he did it at the age of 15…” And Wenger will continue. “But I was worried about Martin. After arriving at “Arsenal”, he resumed his creativity. He plays incredibly well and master everything in the game. He is complete. I love him in every aspect of the game. Attack and defense. Makes decisions quickly and always optimally. This is amazing! I love him and I love how he makes football look easy. He has developed very well. It’s really incredible. Decisions, he is the leader in the team. »

Ødegaard should also lead Norway with Haaland

Now that he has established himself at the highest level, Martin Ødegaard will also be looking forward to his captain’s armband (47 games, 2 goals). “The fact that he is not as good in the national team as in the club is the subject of a long discussion in Norway, Mats Arntzen clarifies. I think this is unfair. In almost every game, he is one of the best players in the national team, but the expectations are very high. Norway often fail to dominate games like Arsenal and this obviously plays to Ødegaard’s strengths. Then we must not forget that football is a game with an opponent. When you play Norway, the easiest way to silence Haaland is to silence Ødegaard. Therefore, playing in Norway, it is more difficult for him to receive the ball in dangerous areas than playing at Arsenal due to the strength of the team and the level of his teammates.the Norwegian journalist emphasizes.

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Meanwhile, Martin Ødegaard is determined to do whatever it takes to get Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League. This Sunday’s (5:30 p.m.) clash at arch-rivals Tottenham’s turf will once again be an opportunity for the Norwegian to confirm that he has truly changed in size. “Last year we did not reach our goal, so this year we are very hungry and we want to show our qualities”, he told us earlier in the season. Did the Gunners’ return to the fore necessarily mark the arrival of a young Norwegian talent who had long struggled to live up to expectations?

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