The Hard Tackles explores the situation of Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard and what the future could hold for him amid permanent Arsenal links.
As we head towards the final stretch of the campaign, Arsenal’s fears over the soaring price tag of Martin Odegaard could further escalate, notes Daily Star, in an exclusive report this week.
It is no secret that the Gunners have made Odegaard their priority target in the upcoming summer transfer window. His current loan deal expires at the end of the season, with Real Madrid not too keen on offloading their playmaker for a meagre value.
The Spanish giants had initially valued Odegaard at £30 million when he initially joined Arsenal on loan. However, the Norwegian has come a long way since, with Mikel Arteta fearing that his overall valuation could cross the £50 million mark by the end of the campaign.
In addition, the north London giants are expected to face competition from rival clubs in the pursuit of Odegaard this summer – making things all the more difficult. The player does not have any buyout clause embedded in his loan contract, meaning his future, as well as his market value, could be in the hands of Real Madrid.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at this Martin Odegaard transfer saga and how things are likely to transpire as both Arsenal and Real Madrid try their best to keep hold of the talented attacking midfielder.
The case for Martin Odegaard at Real Madrid
In order to dig deeper into the Martin Odegaard transfer saga, it is important to consider the fact that Real Madrid require the services of a proper number ten more than Arsenal at the moment.
In Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric, Los Blancos have a world-class midfield unit. But, two of them aren’t even playmakers and often struggle in half-spaces while Modric, the only viable central midfielder who plays the role of a number ten in Zinedine Zidane’s tactical setup, is currently in the twilight of his career.
Real Madrid does have other options in Isco and Marco Asensio. Unfortunately, one of them has struggled to prove himself in recent years and is likely to depart the Bernabeu while the other has had problems with injuries and prefers playing out wide.
Further options include Brahim Diaz and Reinier Jesus, both of whom are yet to prove themselves in their loan spells at AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund respectively, leaving Martin Odegaard as the only option from the existing squad for Zidane.
The Frenchman even rates Odegaard highly and was reportedly disappointed with the player’s move to Arsenal on loan, although he did respect his decision.
Nevertheless, Odegaard’s return to the Bernabeu should give Zidane an ideal option that can not only operate as a long-term replacement for Modric but is already a quality player himself, evidently improving his overall game under the leadership of Mikel Arteta.
It gives Los Merengues incentive to keep hold of the services of the Norwegian international, with the player himself likely to relish the opportunity to prove himself at the Bernabeu next season.
Should Zidane does offload Odegaard, however, it is needless to say that Real Madrid will be determined to avoid a mistake they made in 2019 by selling Marcos Llorente for just €30 million, especially with the player now being valued at around €120 million by Atletico Madrid.
Reports from Spanish media earlier this year indicated that Florentino Perez was hoping for somewhere around €80 million for Odegaard, which leads us to our next talking point in this Odegaard transfer saga.
Can Arsenal afford the Norwegian?
Daily Star’s report seems to suggest that Arsenal have around £50 million they can spend in order to acquire the services of Odegaard. It makes sense given the fact that the ongoing financial crisis is likely to cripple the club’s powers in the transfer window.
The Gunners have taken a lot of risks over the past couple of years, particularly with the acquisitions of Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey. And while Odegaard would indeed be a less risky option, having already proved himself at Emirates, it appears unlikely that Stan Kroenke would want to sanction anything over the £50 million mark.
It should leave Arsenal relying heavily on their departures as they attempt to fund a move for the 22-year-old playmaker. One player almost destined to leave Emirates is Matteo Guendouzi, who is being courted by Chelsea while the likes of Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and Alexandre Lacazette are also likely to depart – resulting in a massive squad overhaul in the summer.
It does, however, mean that the Gunners will need to splash the cash on other areas to fill the gaps – potentially forcing Mikel Arteta to vouch for cost-effective options in the number ten role, rather than going big on Odegaard.
Liverpool, Chelsea also on the prowl
Aside from Arsenal, fellow league rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, are keeping close tabs on Odegaard, knowing the playmaker’s future at Bernabeu could still remain uncertain if Zidane remains the head coach of Real Madrid beyond this summer.
Chelsea, for one, have enjoyed a rapid change of fortunes under Thomas Tuchel. And the German will be keen on further bolstering his creative options in the summer, most likely at the expense of Hakim Ziyech, while Christian Pulisic has also been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool arguably requires the services of a number ten more than Chelsea as they continue to struggle in the 2020/21 campaign. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane failing to provide the consistency, the Reds have lacked the presence of a proper playmaker who can offer that penetration and ball-progression in the final third.
PSG also have good reasons to take the gamble on Odegaard, who could turn out to be an ideal replacement for the likes of Julian Draxler and Pablo Sarabia next season. And unlike Arsenal, all of these three clubs have the financial firepower to pull off a big-money deal for the Real Madrid starter in this upcoming transfer window – making things all the more difficult for the Gunners.
What are the alternatives?
Arsenal’s ultimate transfer decision on Martin Odegaard could heavily depend on the alternatives available to them this summer. One player that has attracted a lot of attention this week is Nabil Fekir. In fact, it is believed that the Gunners are in a pole position to sign the Frenchman, who wants to leave Real Betis in the summer.
His experience, combined with a revival of form in La Liga could make him an interesting alternative, although perhaps not as effective, knowing the fact that the former Lyon star is not as efficient when it comes to ball progression and mostly relies on set-pieces.
Other options include either of the German duo of Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt. But unfortunately, neither of these two players have enjoyed a good time over the past 12 months and have endured a steady decline in their game, with Brandt, in particular, falling down the pecking order at Borussia Dortmund this season.
There are a variety of options outside of Germany, as well, including Juventus ace Paulo Dybala, who offers a more starry presence in the camp while Mislav Orsic is a far cheaper option, due to his lack of experience at the highest level of football.
All these players are viable candidates should Arsenal miss out on the services of Odegaard, although it remains to be seen whether or not Arteta opts for a number ten at all, as the Spaniard does always have the privilege of giving Emile Smith Rowe the reigns, as far as that lone attacking midfield slot is concerned.