Arsenal have progressed rapidly in recent years. The success of each player has been revolutionary, and so have the changes behind the scenes. Investment has been made into the team, intelligent staff have been hired and the entire operation is efficient.
Part of this efficiency has been in holding onto top talent. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba (soon) have been tied down. They are valuable pieces of the project and their value is protected as such. The confusion and murkiness of vague contract statuses are long gone. There is clarity in what Mikel Arteta wants in his squad.
The midfield, in particular, is where the most overhaul is needed. The current group of midfield players at the club is one marked by age. Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are all 30 years old. Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe are yet to impact the same as much as both the manager and they would like. However, there is one outstanding player, even winning the 2022/23 Player of the Year award at the club. It can only be Martin Odegaard.
The next player who should have his contract extended
The Norwegian hit the ground running after signing permanently. In his second season, he has utterly transformed his game and the team. A player that was once accused of lacking end product, Odegaard scored 15 goals and notched seven assists, doubling his production numbers from the previous years. The early season hesitation in firing off shots has given way to a rapid rise in finishing.
Odegaard impresses with his soft skills too. He has been a valuable leader, captaining the team and giving every ounce of energy into every single game. He sprints after each loose ball. He tracks back before surging forward into attack. Most importantly, he takes responsibility. He does not shy away from tough games, instead dropping deep to get possession and always calling for the ball.
There are still aspects of his game that need to improve. Greater consistency can always be worked towards. He was anonymous in a few games this season (although these were admittedly few and far between). Additionally, as ludicrous as it may sound given his numbers, his finishing can also improve. Some chances were left as just chances as opposed to goals due to a slight indecision or poor strike.
The good news is that one of Arsenal’s best players and a midfielder with world-class potential is still only 24 years old. He has plenty of time to continue to develop. With his contract expiring in 2025, the club have some leeway in securing his signature for an extension. Yet with his value incredibly high and the player deserving of even more recognition, securing him early would be best. He has been invaluable to the club and will continue to be so for years to come.