This summer’s transfer window will be one where Mikel Arteta needs to stamp his authority, and more importantly, sign players that suit his style of play moving forward into the 21/22 campaign.
There will no doubt be a host of names thrown into the discussion of whom Arsenal should look to sign this summer. However, arguably one of Arsenal’s most important bits of business could be whether they can sign newly appointed Norway captain Martin Ødegaard on a permanent basis from Real Madrid.
Since his arrival in January, the Real Madrid loanee has impressed Arsenal fans more and more every week. The 22-year old Norway captain has quickly become one of Mikel Arteta’s most important players and looks to have seemingly adapted his style of play to the high demands of the Premier League. From his equalising goal against Tottenham to his dazzling, and influential display in Arsenal’s recent comeback against West Ham, Ødegaard has demonstrated why so many clubs were queuing up for his signature prior to his move to Real Madrid in 2015.
In such a short space of time, Ødegaard has already shown Arsenal fans what he can bring to the side. The Norwegian possesses many qualities which he has demonstrated throughout his time in England so far. When looking at his strengths, there are many you can highlight, from his hunger and drive to win the ball back, to his dynamic & intricate style of play when in tight spaces, to his excellent vision, and awareness, and arguably his most important quality; always wanting the ball, and the natural ability to carry the ball.
Since Christmas, Arsenal’s change in form has been clear for all to see. Only three teams in the Premier League have registered more points than the Gunners. The emergence of Martin Ødegaard and Emile Smith-Rowe, combined with the switch to a 4-2-3-1 is no secret to Arsenal’s recent success. Ødegaard’s role in this system has shown he is the perfect fit for Arteta’s plans moving forward.
The newly appointed Norway captain is always looking to press the ball, and it is no secret that Arteta is a big admirer of this. Ødegaard averages 3.66 regains of possession per 90 minutes, which is superior to any other Arsenal player since his arrival. In addition to this, Ødegaard’s ability to draw players in, and carry the ball, while making intelligent passes which exploit gaps in the opposition’s defence is simply exceptional. He completes over 8 progressive carries per 90, which is more than the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount.
Ødegaard very rarely gives the ball away, and this can be seen through his pass completion rate of 87% since arriving in North London. In the final third of the pitch, Ødegaard has the natural ability to ‘grab the game by the scruff of the neck’ and influence play all around him.
Ødegaard’s leadership has been a breath of fresh air for Arsenal, and it’s clear to see why he has recently been named captain of Norway, an incredible achievement for a player only aged 22-years old. Interestingly, in Arsenal’s most recent episode of ‘Open Mic’, they follow Ødegaard over the 90 minutes against West Ham, which shows Ødegaard’s command in the press, and overall leadership qualities encouraging the players around him, whilst also highlighting how keen he is to get the ball and make things happen. This trait is arguably one Arsenal have been missing dearly over the last few years.
After nearly two full months at Arsenal, Arteta has publicly expressed his admiration for Ødegaard, and recently said “The way he steps on the pitch, he always wants the ball, the way he commands the pressing, he’s been really influential. We’ve all been a bit surprised because he looks really shy and humble, but when he steps on that pitch he’s a real character.”
Ødegaard also seems to be enjoying his time working under Arteta, and during this most recent international break told reporter Arilas Ould-Saada about his relationship with Mikel Arteta; “Our relationship is very good, he is incredible. I have a lot to learn from him, and I just need to ‘sharpen my ears’ and pay attention, he is fantastic.”
With just a few months left on Ødegaard’s loan deal at Arsenal, it looks likely to be tense summer for all Arsenal fans waiting to see if the deal can be extended or made permanent. Ødegaard recently spoke on his future, saying “My deal with Arsenal is until the end of the season. We will see what happens this summer. I’ve said things before that I still stand for: stability and development are key words.”
Unfortunately for Arsenal, each one of Ødegaard’s performances will no doubt increase the value his parent club Real Madrid will be looking for if they are to cash in on him this summer. With the transfer value increasing game by game, so will Ødegaard’s worth and so to, his overall attraction to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, who will likely be able to offer Real Madrid a far larger fee than Arsenal. One important factor to Ødegaard’s future will be whether Zinedine Zidane will still be the man in charge of Madrid next season, as this could determine whether Ødegaard is loaned out again, or sold to fund Real Madrid’s much-needed re-build for the future.
It will certainly be difficult for Arsenal to sign Ødegaard permanently, however if they do, they will have a huge talent on their hands, who not only can get his hands dirty when required but also be the one they look to in times of need. Odegaard has been an excellent source of creativity for Arsenal since joining in January and looks to have rejuvenated the Gunners in many ways.
This could arguably be Arsenal’s biggest signing this summer, and one which certainly will bring confidence to Arsenal fans moving forward in this new Arteta revolution.