Arsenal have signed Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid on a six-month loan deal and will wear the number 11.
It was thought that Ødegaard would be joining Real Sociedad initially, however, following the offer from Arsenal, Mikel Arteta’s personal chat with the player and Real Madrid’s apparent unwillingness to loan the talented Norwegian attacker to a league rival, saw Ødegaard make the switch to North London instead, where his Real Madrid colleague Dani Ceballos is also on loan until the end of the season.
Ødegaard made worldwide headlines in 2014, when aged just 15-years and 118 days, he made his first ever senior appearance and scored his first ever professional goal just eleven days later!
Following his highly talked about debut, Ødegaard was offered to a plethora of clubs, including Arsenal, however, Ødegaard had eyes only for Real Madrid, joining the Spanish outfit for a handsome fee, thought to be in the region of around €8.5m.
Given his age, Ødegaard mainly played his trade for Real Madrid Castilla, the Real Madrid reserve side and was subsequently loaned out on several occasions, namely to SC Heerenveen & SBV Vitesse, both in Holland and to Real Sociedad.
Ødegaard has struggled for game-time this season, appearing for Zinedine Zidane’s side only nine times this season, seven of which have been in the league. A lot of this is down to Zidane’s own personal selection criteria and down to Ødegaard’s unfortunate pedigree for injuries, something that has blighted his time in the Spanish capital.
Going into the January window, Arsenal knew that they needed to make some big changes. Mesut Özil left on Sunday afternoon to join Turkish side Fenerbahçe, leaving Arsenal with only youngster Emile Smith Rowe, who has been something of a revelation and at the heart of Arsenal’s recent resurgence in form.
Smith Rowe himself has a penchant for picking up injuries, so finding cover for the Hale End graduate was an essential part of the puzzle this January, which has already seen Maty Ryan of Brighton & Hove Albion come in on loan until the end of the season.
The January market is a notoriously tricky market to manoeuvre, even for the best of clubs, and though there is the occasional Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to come and light the window up, January’s are usually fairly quiet affairs for Arsenal, and with finances short, Arsenal have had to focus mainly on bringing players in on loan.
During the summer, Arenal were linked with a move for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar and speculation has been mounting in recent weeks of a potential transfer of Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt, however, both deals were far too expensive in January and concerns have been raised on both players from Arsenal’s revamped scouting team.
Ødegaard represents something of a coup for Arsenal, as they are able to bring in a talented youngster to cover an area they need covered for a small fee (it is thought that Ødegaard will cost Arsenal somewhere in the region of £2.5m plus his wages) and, should the player impress, are able to discuss the possibility of a permanent transfer with Real Madrid, despite the absence of a purchase clause being inserted into the deal.
Another important element to the transfer is the fact that Ødegaard is exempt from an isolation period in England, owing to his elite sportsman exemption, meaning that Ødegaard will possibly be fit for Saturday’s visit of Manchester United.
Though Arsenal fans would likely prefer to see a permanent move, a loan move for Ødegaard is still a major coup for the club and an impressive transfer that adds both depth and competition for a place in the starting lineup, as well as tactical and positional versatility.