Why Martin Ødegaard will be a great fit for Arsenal
After successful talks between Arsenal and his representatives, Martin Ødegaard has joined the club on loan until the end of the season.
The new Gooner has been with parent club Real Madrid since 2015, signing as a 16-year-old after making a huge impact with Norwegian side Strøngodset. Since his move to Los Blancos, he has had successful loan spells in Holland with Heerenveen as well as Vitesse and most recently with Real Sociedad in Spain.
Ødegaard has gone from strength to strength in the last few seasons, developing into an extremely tidy playmaker. The tricky midfielder already has appeared for his native Norway 25 times, an impressive feat for a 22-year-old.
Ødegaard boasts a number of attributes that are associated with a ‘traditional’ number 10. He has an eye for a pass, possesses quick, nimble feet and also chips in with goals too.
When in possession he always looks to find progressive passes, often threading balls through the eye of a needle to find his team-mates. His exceptional vision is matched by his execution of pass. The youngster's former manager at Strøngodset, David Nielsen, christened him the "Norwegian Messi" due to his incredible blend of talent and hard work.
Ødegaard will add bundles of creativity due to his abilities in the build-up phase and final third. This is illustrated by his creative numbers across the past few seasons, accumulating 21 assists for club and country since the 2018/19 season. This reads even more impressive considering he has only started 70 games in that period.
The Norwegian’s underlying numbers are equally as formidable. Only 5 players in La Liga bettered his 116 shot-creating actions last season and only 3 could top his 89 passes into the final third, landing him a spot in Spanish newspaper Marca's 2019/20 La Liga team of the season.
Ødegaard can do more than just pass. He is accomplished at receiving the ball in between the lines and driving at opposition players with the ball at his feet.
His close control resembles former Arsenal star Santi Cazorla as he carefully caresses the ball, making it extremely difficult for his opponents to dispossess him. Only six players in Spain matched his 63 successful dribbles last campaign and only one of those six boasted a higher success rate.
His dribbling ability is not wasted either; he's consistently able to beat the press and carry the ball into advanced areas. In the previous term, he placed 4th in La Liga's charts for progressive carries and for carries into the final third.
Ødegaard can fit in various positions, regularly operating as a number 10, right-winger or even more recently as a central midfielder in a three. This kind of versatility will be valuable for Mikel Arteta who likes his players to be pragmatic depending on the opposition.
The mercurial midfielder likes to take up positions in the right-half space, often cutting in on his favoured left foot before picking out a pass or opting to shoot. He is no stranger to scoring either, netting on 18 occasions across his last two loan spells.
If Arteta does opt to play the Norwegian on the right he could form a mouth-watering partnership with Hale End graduate Emile Smith-Rowe, who has excelled at number 10 in recent weeks.
Wherever he plays, Ødegaard will add plenty to this Arsenal side, especially when trying to break down opposition teams who sit deep. The 22-year-old produced 60 key passes in La Liga last season while no Arsenal player created more than 39 in the Premier League.
Ex-Gunners favourite Nacho Monreal certainly was impressed with Ødegaard when they played together last season stating, "When you see him in training and playing, you realise that he’s a special player."
- Aaron Catterson-Reid, (@reidthegame)