Arsenal have announced the long-term signing of Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid on a five-year contract, with the option for a sixth. The finances indicate that Arsenal have spent £29m on Ødegaard, with a further £5m due in add-ons. Despite Real Madrid’s insistence, there is no buy-back clause of any kind inserted into the deal. Ødegaard will wear the number 8 shirt, vacated by Dani Ceballos.
Ødegaard spent the previous 6 months on loan in North London, however, the belief was that if Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid (as proved to be the case) that Ødegaard would fight for his place in the Real Madrid first-team ahead of the potential retirements of both Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos.
However, despite assurances over his game time in the Spanish capital this season, Ødegaard decided to return to North London, citing his relationship with Mikel Arteta as one of the fundamental reasons.
Ødegaard started his career at Strømsgodset in Norway, where he made his first-team debut at the tender age of 15. After visiting many clubs around Europe, including Arsenal, Ødegaard opted to join Real Madrid.
From there, Ødegaard was sent out on a number of loans to aid his development; first to Heerenveen and Vitesse in the Eredivisie and Real Sociedad in Spain.
In January of 2021, Arsenal were facing a crisis of creativity. The Dante-esque exile of Mesut Özil from the first team and the recent emergence of Emile Smith Rowe (who recently signed a new contract with the club, himself), Arsenal tried to bring Ødegaard to the club as a way of fixing their creativity issues.
Ødegaard proved to be a roaring success at the club, grabbing two goals (one, an absolute blinder against Olympiacos in the Europa League and the other in the North London Derby) and cementing his place in Mikel Arteta’s plans.
The signing of Ødegaard seems to mirror the signing of Özil from Real Madrid, however, despite their many similarities, the difference between the two transfers is notable.
When Arsène Wenger plucked Özil from Real Madrid in 2013, the German playmaker was deemed surplus to requirements by the club and free to leave, prompting Arsenal to snap him up and Alexis Sánchez a year later.
With Ødegaard, Arsenal have signed a player that, by all accounts, Real Madrid were fairly desperate to keep. New boss Carlo Ancelotti was very keen to keep the Norway captain at the club, however, Ødegaard’s mind was made up and he decided to head back to North London.
Despite his rather emotional Instagram post following the end of his loan, Ødegaard always seemed destined to return to Arsenal this summer.
Arsenal did explore other options too. Bids for Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendía were ultimately unsuccessful as the Argentine joined Aston Villa instead; Houssem Aouar at Lyon was under surveillance for a while and interest has also been registered in Leicester City’s James Maddison, but Ødegaard always seemed like the primary target.
Despite the promptness of his signing and registration, Ødegaard will not be available for selection against Chelsea on Sunday, owing to visa issues.
With little over a week left until the close of the transfer window, Arsenal will be glad to have finally landed their top target for the window.