Arsenal may have given Real Madrid the ultimate insult over Martin Odegaard, the untouchable record breaker in a class of his own

Real Madrid’s discarded wonder boy Martin Odegaard has become Arsenal’s main man, with his £30million fee looking ever more insulting. Last weekend, he became the first Premier League player since records began in the 2003/04 season to complete 100+ passes [109], create at least five chances [7] and assist multiple goals [2] in the same game as the Gunners trounced West Ham 6-0. Odegaard was surplus to requirements at Madrid, and Arsenal have been rewardedAFP Not a lot a fuss was made about it, a sign of the progress he’s made, but the silky Norwegian was literally untouchable at the London Stadium. Odegaard backed that up by unleashing the sweetest of left-footed half-volleys in Arsenal’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley on Saturday and with 18 months of near flawless attacking midfield wizardry behind him, that level has understandably become the norm.  So, as Arsenal prepare to re-launch their bid for Champions League glory with a last 16 tie at FC Porto this week, live on talkSPORT, I don’t think there can be any argument that Odegaard is now among Europe’s elite. Just like Madrid had hoped, before cashing him in.  Magic numbers People consistently drool over the magic of Kevin de Bruyne [and I’m not going to argue against the validity of that] but Odegaard is comfortably the Premier League’s next best attacking midfielder.  His numbers speak volumes. No one plying their trade in the world’s strongest division for instance, has created more chances from open play this season. Just ten shy of the 63 he managed last season [the third best in 2022-23] Odegaard has been disgustingly inventive.  Over the course of his Premier League career to date, the 25-year-old is creating a chance once every 37 minutes.  Since the 2003/04 season, Mesut Ozil [every 27 minutes] and Cesc Fabregas [every 32 minutes] are the only Arsenal players who can eclipse that, so he is keeping good company. Odegaard sits ahead of some of the best talent for open play chances created There is no doubting in the impact the 25-year-old has on the GunnersGetty A natural grafter Prompting Arsenal’s play from a right sided ‘no.8’ berth, his role encompasses far more than just hanging around in pockets of space too. Involved in everything, Odegaard has carved out a niche as Mikel Arteta’s integral orchestrator, in and out of possession. He is the antithesis of a luxury player, covering an average of 11.8km per 90 minutes. When inspiring a vital 3-1 success over title rivals Liverpool a fortnight ago he upped the ante in that department, clocking up an eye-watering 12.75km to help get the job done. Much of Odegaard’s energy is devoted to pressing, he’s an absolute machine when it comes to closing down. He is among the Premier League’s top five central or attacking midfielders at applying ‘pressures’ to their opposite numbers.  Incisive distribution Pleasingly for his manager that workload doesn’t distract from his day job of laying on quality ammunition. The Norwegian currently leads the way with five more through balls than any other top-flight player this season. Odegaard tops the list for most through balls in the Premier League this season Performing for a side which is built around fluid, interchangeable movement, Odegaard loves nothing more than delivering a defence-splitting pass for a runner from deep. Fulfilling potential Is Arsenal’s skipper world class? Let’s not go there – I’m still recovering from the futile debate Rio Ferdinand created by claiming Bukayo Saka isn’t – but yes, of course he is. Making goals, scoring goals, controlling high-level matches with his quality and decision-making, he is seriously good. It is fast approaching nine years now since Carlo Ancelotti made him the youngest La Liga debutant in Los Blancos’ history at the age of just 16 years and 157 days.  The Norwegian arrived in Madrid with tonnes of potential but wasn’t able to fulfil itGetty At the time he was already a full international with Norway, having made his pro debut for Stromsgodset the year before, just 118 days after turning 15. Odegaard was considered a generational talent with the world at his feet, but time was not afforded to the teenager.  Swallowed up by Real’s thirst for instant glory, he waited 679 days for his first start, in the Copa del Rey, and not long after that, with no chance of being used regularly, Odegaard jumped on the loan carousel.  Spells with Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad saw incremental progress, enough for Zinedine Zidane to start using him at the outset of 2020-21.  But aged 22, and yet to establish himself at Madrid, the Spaniards were happy to do a deal when Arsenal pounced three years ago. First for a loan move, and then for a permanent transfer.  Captain material Fast forward to 2024 and Odegaard is no longer a boy; instead, he is a leader of men.  Now

Arsenal may have given Real Madrid the ultimate insult over Martin Odegaard, the untouchable record breaker in a class of his own

Real Madrid’s discarded wonder boy Martin Odegaard has become Arsenal’s main man, with his £30million fee looking ever more insulting.

Last weekend, he became the first Premier League player since records began in the 2003/04 season to complete 100+ passes [109], create at least five chances [7] and assist multiple goals [2] in the same game as the Gunners trounced West Ham 6-0.

Odegaard was surplus to requirements at Madrid, and Arsenal have been rewarded
AFP

Not a lot a fuss was made about it, a sign of the progress he’s made, but the silky Norwegian was literally untouchable at the London Stadium.

Odegaard backed that up by unleashing the sweetest of left-footed half-volleys in Arsenal’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley on Saturday and with 18 months of near flawless attacking midfield wizardry behind him, that level has understandably become the norm. 

So, as Arsenal prepare to re-launch their bid for Champions League glory with a last 16 tie at FC Porto this week, live on talkSPORT, I don’t think there can be any argument that Odegaard is now among Europe’s elite. Just like Madrid had hoped, before cashing him in. 

Magic numbers

People consistently drool over the magic of Kevin de Bruyne [and I’m not going to argue against the validity of that] but Odegaard is comfortably the Premier League’s next best attacking midfielder. 

His numbers speak volumes. No one plying their trade in the world’s strongest division for instance, has created more chances from open play this season. Just ten shy of the 63 he managed last season [the third best in 2022-23] Odegaard has been disgustingly inventive. 

Over the course of his Premier League career to date, the 25-year-old is creating a chance once every 37 minutes. 

Since the 2003/04 season, Mesut Ozil [every 27 minutes] and Cesc Fabregas [every 32 minutes] are the only Arsenal players who can eclipse that, so he is keeping good company.

Odegaard sits ahead of some of the best talent for open play chances created
There is no doubting in the impact the 25-year-old has on the Gunners
Getty

A natural grafter

Prompting Arsenal’s play from a right sided ‘no.8’ berth, his role encompasses far more than just hanging around in pockets of space too.

Involved in everything, Odegaard has carved out a niche as Mikel Arteta’s integral orchestrator, in and out of possession. He is the antithesis of a luxury player, covering an average of 11.8km per 90 minutes.

When inspiring a vital 3-1 success over title rivals Liverpool a fortnight ago he upped the ante in that department, clocking up an eye-watering 12.75km to help get the job done.

Much of Odegaard’s energy is devoted to pressing, he’s an absolute machine when it comes to closing down. He is among the Premier League’s top five central or attacking midfielders at applying ‘pressures’ to their opposite numbers. 

Incisive distribution

Pleasingly for his manager that workload doesn’t distract from his day job of laying on quality ammunition.

The Norwegian currently leads the way with five more through balls than any other top-flight player this season.

Odegaard tops the list for most through balls in the Premier League this season

Performing for a side which is built around fluid, interchangeable movement, Odegaard loves nothing more than delivering a defence-splitting pass for a runner from deep.

Fulfilling potential

Is Arsenal’s skipper world class? Let’s not go there – I’m still recovering from the futile debate Rio Ferdinand created by claiming Bukayo Saka isn’t – but yes, of course he is.

Making goals, scoring goals, controlling high-level matches with his quality and decision-making, he is seriously good.

It is fast approaching nine years now since Carlo Ancelotti made him the youngest La Liga debutant in Los Blancos’ history at the age of just 16 years and 157 days. 

The Norwegian arrived in Madrid with tonnes of potential but wasn’t able to fulfil it
Getty

At the time he was already a full international with Norway, having made his pro debut for Stromsgodset the year before, just 118 days after turning 15. Odegaard was considered a generational talent with the world at his feet, but time was not afforded to the teenager. 

Swallowed up by Real’s thirst for instant glory, he waited 679 days for his first start, in the Copa del Rey, and not long after that, with no chance of being used regularly, Odegaard jumped on the loan carousel. 

Spells with Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad saw incremental progress, enough for Zinedine Zidane to start using him at the outset of 2020-21. 

But aged 22, and yet to establish himself at Madrid, the Spaniards were happy to do a deal when Arsenal pounced three years ago. First for a loan move, and then for a permanent transfer. 

Captain material

Fast forward to 2024 and Odegaard is no longer a boy; instead, he is a leader of men. 

Now at Arsenal, he has proven himself as a worthy leader for the title challengers
Getty

Determined but calm, his captaincy is built around setting a perfect example to others, and it’s a role that suits his personality and the culture Arteta has carefully created. 

Comfortable with the armband, he has clarity in his decision making too. Knowing Kai Havertz needed a goal to boost his confidence he handed the German the ball for a ‘sympathy penalty’ at Bournemouth. From then on, he’s been a different player. 

In the wake of a Jorginho spot kick miss for his country, he also gave the Italian a chance to bury that memory by letting him take a penalty against Lens. Thoughtful and bold, he seems to have a feel for what’s needed in the group.

He gets the fans too. Often an in-game cheerleader, he is always the last to leave the field at the end of a game, win or lose, thanking them for their support.

Finding a home

Odegaard has become a hugely trusted figure for Arsenal and Arteta
Getty

Looking back, while you can’t blame Madrid for diving in to land the world’s most coveted teenager in 2014, it was a move that proved too much, too soon for both parties. 

Odegaard’s development was a long-term project that required patience to bear fruit, but while feasting at the top table of European football the Spanish giants were understandably distracted by more immediate priorities. 

In football sometimes you have to let a promising young player go, in order for them to blossom, and to their credit Arsenal timed their move to perfection. 

To the sound of darts anthem, ‘Chase The Sun’, Gunners fans love to sing about their skipper and how when he’s on the ball he’s f*****g magical, and they’re not wrong. 

Arsenal hit the bullseye with Odegaard. Growing alongside the team he captains, the north Londoners can now compete with anyone, on the biggest stage.


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