Today, Wednesday, January 27th, the news broke that a loan agreement has been signed and that Martin Ødegaard will play for Arsenal until the 30th of June 2021.
Martin Ødegaard will play with number 11 on his back according to Arsenal’s website.
Mikel Arteta, the Gunners manager, said:
“It’s great that we’ve secured Martin to come to us until the end of the season. Martin is, of course, a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we’re all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May.”
In his first interview as an Arsenal player, Ødegaard said that playing for Arsenal is a dream come through and that one of his all-time favourite Arsenal players is Cesc Fabregas:
“There were a lot [of Arsenal players I admired]. But I think Fabregas, for me, was one of my idols when I grew up. So especially him.
“The way he controls the game, the way he dictated the game, his ability to give assists and also score goals. Everything about his game. I tried to learn as much as possible when I grew up watching him. He was the top player.”
According to The Times, Arsenal will pay a 1.8 million GBP loan fee to Real Madrid as well as Ødegaard’s wages for the relevant time period of some 38 000 GBP a week.
Several reports indicate that Ødegaard had loan offers from several other clubs like Real Sociedad and Ajax.
However, the Norwegian daily VG is reporting that Ødegaard will receive a much higher salary of almost 100 000 GBP a week.
As we indicated in our previous article about the Ødegaard loan agreement, we are not sure if loaning the player to Arsenal rather than allowing him to go back to Real Sociedad was the right move for Real Madrid as the players market value is likely to drop if he should flop in the Premiership and as he seemed very likely to perform well if going back to San Sebastian.
Arsenal will be Martin Ødegaard’s third club in less than a year and after signing for Real Madrid at the tender age of 15 he has played for Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad.
The player had not been playing much the last few months and with the benefit of hindsight, the decision to end the stay with Real Sociedad and repatriate to Real Madrid a year earlier than initially expected was a bad move.
This time last season, Ødegaard dominated in his midfield role in Sociedad. He was widely lauded as one of the better players in La Liga. He was well established in San Sebastian, highly respected by the manager Imanoel Alguacil and with a role in the club that seemed highly beneficial for his development.
Considering the Covid-19 pandemic and the implications for the revenue of most large soccer clubs it is understandable that Zinédine Zidane chooses to request the return of a player who was already under contract with “Los Blancos” rather than spending funds on signing someone from another club. Even so, it is clear that things have not worked out anything close to what was hoped for, both for the player and Real Madrid who, even if they have played one match more, trails Atletico Madrid by seven points.
Considering how little playing time he has gotten lately it is not at all surprising that Ødegaard chooses a move away from the Spanish capital, however, a short six month spell in London will likely be very challenging for the 22 year old.
He needs to adapt to a new city, a new manager, another system of playing football, a new club as well as new team mates. All of this for a mere six month stay.
Ødegaard did not score any goals nor did he provide any assists during his matches for Real Madrid this season, he has not played anything like as well as he did for “La Real” last season.
In all likelihood the timing of his move to Santiago Bernabéu was far from great. He struggled a lot with injuries towards the end of last season and he played a lot better during the first half of the 2019-20 season than he did towards the end. He was bothered by a “jumpers knee injury” during the summer and as a consequence he likely arrived out of form at the start of this season. In October and December he has been struggling with smaller injuries and has conceivably been unable to do himself justice these last few months.
The Spanish press has been critical of Zidane’s handling of the matter. He was the one who decided that it was time for Ødegaard to return and he is the one who has been in charge of how any chances Ødegaard would get. There is also some who think they see a wider trend of younger talents struggling to break through while playing for Zidane.
The last five years Real Madrid has dedicated a lot of resources towards building a new team. However, few of these talents have achieved much. The only players younger than 25 who have played more than 10 league matches for Real Madrid this season is Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.
Players who have been recently sold like Sergio Reguilón (Tottenham) and Achraf Hakimi (Inter) have been impressive for their new clubs.
Younger players who have been brought in like Éder Militão and Luka Jović have not broken through and several have been loaned to different clubs because of a lack of playing time.
According to Marca Ødegaard and Jović leaving on loan agreements confirm that Zidane lacks faith in the talents available at the club and that the team has failed to address the need for renewal.
Several of the players like; Modrić (35), Sergio Ramos (34), Benzema (33) and Kroos (31) who are composing the bulk of the current Real Madrid side are already far from young and like everyone else they are not getting any younger.
It will be interesting to see if a diminutive playmaker like Ødegaard will be able to be successful in the Premiership and if Zidane’s lack of results will lead to him being replaced in Madrid around the time Ødegaard’s loan agreement with Arsenal expires.