Real Madrid: Could Arsenal convince Martin Odegaard to stay longer?

Arsenal, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid fans thought Martin Odegaard would fit the cliche of being “like a new signing” for the 2020-2021 season, in lieu of any actual signings during the economic crisis with Los Blancos keeping a firm eye on Galacticos Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland for 2021.

But instead of blossoming in Madrid and playing the lights-out football in La Liga that he did in the first half of the 2019-2020 season, Odegaard barely played. He had some nice moments against the likes of Inter Milan and former club Real Sociedad, but, by and large, Odegaard was a shockingly unimportant part of the squad. So much so that he decided he had enough and requested a loan move.

A return to La Real was floated around, but after they acquired the experienced David Silva as his replacement in midfield, there was no roster or monetary space for the Norwegian. Instead, Real Madrid sent Odegaard to the Premier League with fellow Madrid man Dani Ceballos in the Arsenal midfield. Mikel Arteta convinced Odegaard that he’d be important to an Arsenal team thoroughly lacking creatively and significantly underperforming.

Odegaard hasn’t put up big numbers in his first handful of appearances with the North London club, but he is showing the creativity and technical quality that Arsenal desperately needed. And that’s made many of their supporters excited for what he can do down the stretch of the season.

Martin Odegaard has already played more minutes for Arsenal than he did with Real Madrid

Already, Odegaard has matched the league minutes he played at Real Madrid (233) at Arsenal with 231 Premier League minutes and an additional 180 minutes in the Europa League across two starts compared to 135 in the Champions League for Los Merengues.

Odegaard is getting ready to play an instrumental role in Arsenal’s attack this season, and manager Mikel Arteta has been hinting at his desire to keep the 22-year-old around. He did very well to convince the playmaker of his project, and he’s rewarded him with minutes accordingly. The relationship between Arteta and Odegaard could be more positive than Odegaard’s with Zinedine Zidane, as Zidane did not play him much. But that wasn’t due to incompetence or a dislike for the player; it was likely in order to protect Odegaard from making a knee injury worse.

Arsenal and Arteta probably see a door open to keep Odegaard for longer than the second half of the 2020-2021 season, either on another loan or on a permanent transfer. The latter seems unthinkable, and the former doesn’t even seem like it’s on the table either. After all, Real Madrid surely know Odegaard’s ability and understand the important role he could play in the attacking midfield next season, especially if they are able to sign his Galactic countryman Erling Haaland.

But Arteta and Arsenal have a fighting chance. Madridistas cannot get arrogant and overlook this possibility, as unlikely as it may seem right now. Last year at this time, who foresaw Achraf Hakimi going to Inter or Sergio Reguilon joining forces with Jose Mourinho with the other major North London club?

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Odegaard’s situation is fluid. It shouldn’t be, and it should be concretely Real Madrid. But you just never know what could change between now and then, especially if the player enjoys his football at Arsenal under Arteta.