The Hard Tackle takes a look at where Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard could end up this summer should he end up leaving Real Madrid.
It has been well over six years since Martin Odegaard made his way to Real Madrid from Norwegian outfit Stromsgodset, as the next big teenage sensation tipped to become a future superstar.
Aged just 16, Odegaard made his first-team debut for Real Madrid in May 2015, under then-manager Carlo Ancelotti but largely played for the club’s Castilla outfit, apart from making an odd appearance here and there. The Norwegian prodigy then spent eighteen months away on loan at Dutch side Heerenveen, where he impressed before signing for Vitesse Arnhem in the summer of 2018, where he once again did well.
However, a spot in the Real Madrid setup was still not forthcoming, leading to another temporary spell in 2019/20, this time with La Liga club Real Sociedad. Another solid campaign compelled Zinedine Zidane to include Odegaard in his plans for the 2020/21 term, but the French tactician wasn’t liberal when it came to handing the Norwegian regular game-time.
Frustrated with his situation, Odegaard moved again, signing for Arsenal in January last year, where he impressed quite a fair bit. While a return of two goals and two assists in 20 games doesn’t stand out, the 22-year-old’s overall impact was considerable.
Back at Real Madrid, Odegaard hasn’t really been able to stand out in the preseason under new boss Ancelotti. And with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos still on the books, the Norwegian is said to be keen on a move away, as he is still not convinced about the amount of time he would get on the field.
This development has alerted Arsenal, who have been intent on signing Odegaard permanently, with the Gunners now lining up a move for the 22-year-old. However, the north London giants have been joined by arch-rivals Chelsea and Liverpool in the race to sign the Norwegian playmaker, who is valued at €50 million by Real Madrid.
The Hard Tackle now assesses the situation at each of the three clubs and analyses where Odegaard would be best-suited to join.
Assessing the transfer situation
It goes without saying that the lack of creativity was a major bone of contention for Arsenal last season, which was addressed to an extent with the addition of Odegaard and the successful integration of Emile Smith Rowe in the first team. And, while the Gunners have managed to secure the long-term future of their academy product, putting him under intense pressure at a young age might not be ideal.
So, having another creative midfielder who can share the burden of chance-creation with him while providing Arsenal with that much more quality in the final third would benefit Mikel Arteta & co., making Odegaard very much a viable transfer target.
While the lack of European football could be a dampener, Arsenal have shown great ambition in the transfer market so far, especially with regard to their signing of Ben White. And considering the familiarity aspect, with Odegaard already having done well under Arteta, a move could very well happen this summer.
Transfer Likelihood: 8/10
Is Arsenal the right club?
As iterated earlier, in his short time at Arsenal, Odegaard settled in quite well and formed a slick partnership with the likes of Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka. The Norwegian has the faith of the manager and will also be confident of doing well at the Emirates, having managed to do so not very long ago.
Arsenal’s style of play under Arteta is something that is designed to get the best out of a creative midfielder like Odegaard, with his interplay in the final third and the ability to pick out defence-splitting passes could help get the best out of a misfiring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Approval Rating: 9/10
Assessing the transfer situation
Chelsea’s interest in Odegaard comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the number of options that Thomas Tuchel already has at his disposal. The German likes to set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation with the two wide-attacking midfielders. And for those two positions, he has Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi battling for starting berths.
In addition to that, Tuchel could also call upon Ruben Loftus-Cheek, provided the 25-year-old does not leave on loan, while Timo Werner had also been used in such a role last season. And, in case Chelsea are successful in their pursuit of a top striker, the German may well have to settle playing in that position.
Ziyech has been linked with an exit from Stamford Bridge but has shown positive signs in the preseason. So, a move for Odegaard, at this moment, looks like a distant possibility unless some drastic changes happen, especially considering that a new forward and a new central defender seems to be the priority for the Blues.
Transfer Likelihood: 5/10
Is Chelsea the right club?
Following their UEFA Champions League triumph and the progression that they have shown under Tuchel, Chelsea will be an attractive destination for a player like Odegaard. More so, considering that the Blues are always challenging for trophies more often than not. Their strong financial position means that they would be able to provide him handsome wages as well.
From a sporting perspective, Odegaard could relish playing in Tuchel’s system in a role similar to what Mason Mount did over the second half of the season. However, at the end of the day, he could land himself in a similar situation to that of Real Madrid with regard to playing time, considering the amount of competition for just two places.
Approval Rating: 6.5/10
Assessing the transfer situation
After putting up a forgettable defence of their Premier League title, Liverpool need to bolster their squad this summer to catch up with rivals Manchester City at the top. With Manchester United also making a few top moves in the transfer window so far, the Reds cannot risk getting left behind.
The departure of Georginio Wijnaldum has opened up a slot in the middle of the park for Liverpool that they will need to fill. With Curtis Jones still learning the ropes and Naby Keita failing to fulfil the expectations placed on him, a new midfielder becomes a priority for Jurgen Klopp & co. And, while Odegaard might not exactly be a like-for-like replacement for the Dutchman, he would provide the Reds with a different flavour.
Often reliant on their wide players and full-backs for creative spark, adding someone like Odegaard would add a source of creativity from the middle for Liverpool. Furthermore, it would also allow Klopp to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Odegaard as the No. 10 and a double pivot of Fabinho and Thiago/Jordan Henderson. The Reds would have a proper No. 10 that they have lacked since Philippe Coutinho left.
However, funds could be an issue, with Real Madrid demanding €50 million for the playmaker.
Transfer Likelihood: 7/10
Is Liverpool the right club?
Switching from Real Madrid to Liverpool would mean that Odegaard will be moving from one hugely successful club to another, where he will consistently be challenging for trophies. Under the tutelage of an infectious personality like Jurgen Klopp, the 22-year-old could certainly thrive and reach the heights expected of him when he initially burst onto the scenes.
With Wijnaldum departed and the futures of Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Odegaard could stand to get a fair shot at regular game-time as well. The fact that Liverpool have been long-time admirers of him could also influence his decision. With slight tactical tweaks, Klopp would find a place for the prodigious 22-year-old, who certainly has the tools to deliver for the Reds.
Approval Rating: 8/10