"“He was terrific again today in every aspect of the game, what he had to do in defending, when we were high, when we were deep, in build-up phases, in the final third, the way he understands and manages the game when needed,” he said.“I think he’s come a long way since his arrival, he’s showing great maturity and responsibility on the pitch and he makes the other players better I think."
Against Leicester, Odegaard created six chances. Five of these came in the first half. This was the most first-half chances created by an Arsenal player since Mesut Ozil had six against Everton in October 2017.
Martin Odegaard is Arsenal’s £35m bargain from Real Madrid and well on his way to becoming one of the best players in the Premier League
Odegaard has been at the center of all that the Gunners have been creating since taking his place permanently in Arsenal’s midfield. He never misses an opportunity to find an open player or deliver a precision pass.
He’s integral to everything. The Norwegian completed 11 progressive passes at home to Leicester. To put it into perspective, the next highest total from the Gunners came from Benjamin White, who had three.
Odegaard’s rising influence within the squad and his outstanding displays on the pitch have raised the possibility of him becoming the next Gunners’ captain. Nine months ago, none of this could ever have been imagined.
The Norwegian joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid in January 2021, becoming an integral part of Arteta’s side, and the manager made it known that he was interested in signing the player permanently. However, last June it was reported that Real Madrid was planning on retaining Odegaard as he was part of the Spanish side’s plans.
In the end it turned out that he wasn’t truly valued by his parent club. Lord knows why. They were content to sell him for a reasonable profit to raise funds for other players. As for Odegaard, he was happy to sign for a club that truly wanted him and where he felt valued.
The £35m that Arsenal paid for the Norwegian has proven to be of great value as he has become one of the first names in Arteta’s lineup.
Arteta explained the signing when he said:
"“We had no doubts,” he said. “Martin was really happy to join us because he had a really good time, he felt valued, he enjoyed what we are doing, he got a really good connection with the players and the supporters. He wanted to be part of the project.”"
Although he’s only 23 years old, his path to north London has been long and taken many turns. At just 15 years of age he made his professional debut for Norwegian side Strømsgodset, with his clear talent leading to training sessions with top sides including Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Liverpool. In the end, it was Real Madrid that signed him in January 2015.
Unfortunately for the Norwegian he found it difficult to find regular playing time. He was sent out on loan four different times and didn’t actually make his first start for Real Madrid until November 2016.
Since joining Arsenal permanently Odegaard hasn’t looked back. There is a reason he is currently being mentioned as a potential future Arsenal captain.
The midfielder has five goals and four assists so far this season. He recently told Norwegian television outlet TV2 how happy he is at Arsenal.
"“We are building something special,” he said. “It’s a group of players who like each other, and who enjoy playing football together. It’s fun to play on that team here. We are a group that knows each other well.“We are getting better and better, and the system is getting better and better. It’s flowing very well now. It’s fun to play.”"
Odegaard’s importance to Arsenal is obvious. His intelligence on the pitch is proving invaluable, just as he is also serving as a mentor in the development of the Gunners’ young players who are learning so much from his infectious energy and work rate.
All in all, Odegaard’s signing has proven to be a marvelous bit of business by Arsenal.