(Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)
In the last few hours, Arsenal have been linked with a potential 6-month loan move for Norwegian creative midfielder Martin Ødegaard, as per Sky Sports- which has subsequently been confirmed by the ever-reliable David Ornstein. Here’s a look at the player, and why Arsenal should sign him in this January Transfer Window…
The 22-year-old has been virtually exiled from the Real Madrid team by manager Zinedine Zidane with no clear explanation, and therefore it is within the player’s interests to leave the Spanish capital in pursuit of a loan deal, so he can be playing regular football again. Real Madrid are said to be open to accepting a loan move, but are not yet willing to sell- which could work well for Arsenal, who do not have the finances to sign a player of his calibre permanently at this point. While Real Sociedad, who took the Norwegian on loan for 2019/20, are interested in another loan for the player (and with the player said to not be against a move there), they sit in poll position to resign Martin Ødegaard- but the deal is said to be far from completion. Arsenal should take this opportunity to formally register their interest in the player, and do their best to bring him to North London for the remainder of the season.
From an Arsenal perspective, Ødegaard completely fits the bill. While Emile Smith Rowe’s addition to the squad in recent weeks has been one of success, I think it’s pretty clear so see that Arsenal still require more creative threat in their side. Smith Rowe is young; at just 20 he cannot be expected to carry all the weight of being Arsenal’s creative aspirations alone. With concerns over his injury-prone past, it feels too dangerous a risk to place all our eggs in one basket with the Hale End graduate, so to speak. I fear, if we do not sign another creative player this window, our season will rest of a tightrope… we could be just one Smith Rowe injury away from returning to the diabolical form we showed pre his introduction to the Arsenal starting XI in the 3-1 triumph over Chelsea.
Martin Ødegaard can be that additional creative source within our squad. With his services available to acquire on loan, he can be the short-term solution to our problem- whilst we search for a permanent answer in the summer (be that him or someone else). Although predominantly playing centrally as a #10, Ødegaard has also played slightly deeper as the left-hand #8 within a midfield three, as well as left wing on occasions. His versatility could prove handy for Arsenal, were Mikel Arteta to transition to the 4-3-3 we originally expected him to employ- with Ødegaard alongside Partey and Xhaka behind them. Alternatively, the Norwegian could find himself providing cover, or challenging to start, over Smith Rowe. The two could even start together, with one originally starting out on the left flank- but the pair rotating during the game to offer more dynamism and unpredictability to the Arsenal attack. There are several ways he could be incorporated into the side- and would also be available to play in the latter stages of the Europa League.
Due to his inconsistent shortage of minutes so far this season, Ødegaard has not had a chance to prove himself. However, on his loan at Real Sociedad last season, he showed his class to the Spanish league. In 36 appearances, the 22-year-old scored 7 goals and assisted 9 times- averaging a goal involvement every other 90 minutes. He was key to the side’s attacks, the figurehead of the creativity, a role he completed successfully. His excellent statistics run deeper than just his goal contributions. Ødegaard also recorded 0.18 xA/90, 2.14 key passes/90 and 4.13 shot-creating actions/90 (via @AFC_Blogger49 Twitter). All round, it is clear to see from both watching him play and his metrics that he is, essentially, an excellent creative player.
The thesis of what I’m trying to say is quite simple, really. If Arsenal were to sign Martin Ødegaard this summer, I literally cannot find one down side to the deal. He provides another creative threat, cover to Emile Smith Rowe, can play on the wing, as a #10 or #8 and, despite all this, would be possible to sign on loan. Ødegaard could come in to the side this month, play regular minutes in the league and in Europe and then both parties could decide whether he is a signing we’d like to make permanent. Whilst it is true that other clubs are said to be interested in acquiring the Norwegian’s service this month and that he could choose another team over Arsenal, I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t at least formalise our interest with a bid to sign him.
Making a move for Martin Ødegaard on a 6-month loan deal seems like an absolute no brainer for me. We should act quickly to get an offer on the table for Real Madrid and the player’s agents to consider- and hope he choses to make the temporary switch to North London.
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