Real Madrid: Why Martin Odegaard made a mistake by going to Arsenal

Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Martin Odegaard (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

I was wrong. When we first learned that Real Madrid attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard would take his talents to North London, I thought this was going to be a great move for the Norwegian. It seemed like an opportunity for him to elevate a squad that could be competitive and work with both quality veterans like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and ascending young players like Bukayo Saka.

And then I was wrong again when I said that Odegaard looked to be on the cusp of his Real Sociedad form after a sensational display against a West Ham side that has been stronger than Arsenal. Odegaard was the best player on the pitch by some distance, recording four key passes and four dribbles completed in a 3-3 draw, per

Since that match on March 21, Odegaard had one great game against Newcastle United and one assist off the bench against Crystal Palace. Basically, aside from a couple of nice creative numbers against two of the Premier League’s worst teams, Odegaard has done very little. And Arsenal have been a lost cause, hovering in the mid-table, currently sitting in ninth place just two points ahead of Leeds United.

Odegaard has made eight starts and five bench appearances for Arsenal since joining this winter. Basically, he’s had little time to get up to speed, and while he’s shown flashes of quality, he’s been a glorified rotational player on a mediocre team.

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Many of us thought Arsenal would be a good opportunity for Odegaard to face some pressure in the Premier League and help make a team more than the sum of its parts. Instead, he has been working with a manager who is out of his depth in Mikel Arteta, who seems more like a charlatan than the competent disciplinarian he fancies himself as.

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Odegaard’s comments about his future have been a bit bizarre and have even irked some Madridistas, because while many loanees have expressed their desire to start for Real Madrid in the future, Odegaard has played coy.

I don’t understand what he saw in Arsenal. This club is currently run by one of the most incompetent ownerships in football, if not THE most incompetent when you look at where the club was before Stan Kroenke bought the club. There is talent in the squad, but you can’t actually say that anybody is being used optimally.

And from Arsenal’s perspective, they’d be better off investing their time and energy in other players, specifically their homegrown youngsters. They need to build something sustainable, and I don’t think Odegaard is a part of that. It’s not like he blew anyone away in this loan despite a few nice moments.

Odegaard put his faith in Arteta and wanted a challenge at Arsenal. He’s played more minutes than he would have at Real Madrid, but how much more?

Because Odegaard could’ve had real opportunities with the first team to spell the overloaded Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, and he could have played a role in the Champions League instead of scoring bangers against the likes of Olympiacos in the Europa League. And by the way, Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League semis and won’t even make this secondary competition next season.

Martin Odegaard took a gamble by leaving Real Madrid, and it has backfired badly in the eyes of fans

The truth is that Odegaard took a gamble on getting playing time instead of staying patient and trusting a legendary, successful manager in Zinedine Zidane. I don’t blame him for wanting playing time, but he didn’t help his career.

He missed valuable time to play with the team that should be in his future goals, and he instead was a talented but inconsistent bit player for a struggling side with no identity. And while some Arsenal fans want him to stay, it seems like many of them would prefer to save their money on someone else or focus on their own young talents.

Real Madrid will welcome Odegaard back with open arms, but some Madridistas will side-eye him a little bit after this loan. Because to some fans, Odegaard, after fighting for so many years and impressing at places like Vitesse and Real Sociedad, will feel the Norwegian uncharacteristically took the easy way out.

Whereas players like Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola have put in the work to gain Zidane’s trust, Odegaard, whom the manager specifically asked to be part of his squad and started on Matchday 1, left for a guy who has never won anything as a manager.

Odegaard’s loan didn’t help him enough. Nor did help Los Blancos. Nor even Arsenal. And now, in 2021-2022, he needs to make up for the lost time for Real Madrid and show a side to his game that we haven’t seen since the first half of the 2019-2020 season.

He is still young and his talent is not in question. However, Madridistas are beginning to wonder if he wants to be an elite player here, or if he would prefer to get guaranteed minutes at a middling club.

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At the end of the day, it’s his choice, but it would be a disappointment if he didn’t give it his all in Madrid, which is probably what he should have done this season.  And how the fans perceive him, as we know, matters a lot in football, especially in Madrid. They must put any of those feelings aside and support the young man 100 percent.

We know he can be a superstar at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he needs the full support of fans. His chapter with Madrid has only just begun, and I hope Odegaard himself is mindful of that, even if the 2020-2021 season was a frustrating one for him.