5 things you need to know about new Arsenal signing Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard
(Image credit: Getty)

This season looked like the season for Martin Odegaard. He's been talked about since he was 15-years-old, signed for Real Madrid ludicrously early in his career and played for Real's B-team under then-coach Zinedine Zidane. 

When Zidane recalled him from a successful loan spell at Real Sociedad at the start of the season, it looked like the precocious Norwegian was ready to step into the limelight assume the Galactico crown that was always supposed to be his. It's not quite worked out that way.

Reunited with Zizou, Odegaard hasn't had the minutes that he would have liked this season. Loan deals are being speculated, with Arsenal looking for a new playmaker to fill Mesut Ozil's void. Could Mikel Arteta replace MO with MO?

Well, Martin's been very busy since you signed him on Football Manager seven or so years ago... 

1. His dad joined Real Madrid when he did

Hans Erik Odegaard was a decent central midfielder for Stromsgodset in Norway. He always encouraged his son, Martin, starting a football club for him to play at, investing in good turf pitches and providing the boy a platform to practice 20 hours a week at football.

It worked. When Real Madrid came in for Odegaard Jr, however, there was a condition: Odegaard Snr went to join his son at Real, taking up a coaching position at the club. Great negotiating from the Odegaard family.

Not only that, Hans Erik was rumoured to be on more money than Zinedine Zidane, who was U23 manager at the time. Imagine your dad chatting to Zizou while you're balling in the Real Madrid academy... 

2. He made his Norway debut aged 15

There are wonderkids and then there's Martin Odegaard. 

While most players cycle through the age groups for their country, ending with the U21s before making their senior debut in their late teens or early twenties, Odegaard played competitive international football for his nation before he was 16. Wowsers trousers. 

Odegaard was called up for a game against the United Arab Emirates first, playing the entire goalless draw, becoming the youngest player to play for Norway at senior level, at 15 years and 253 days shortly after. A month later, he made his competitive debut against Bulgaria.

At the age of 15 years and 300 days, he became the youngest player to ever play in a European Championship qualifier, breaking a 29-year record held by Icelander Sigurdur Jonsson.

3. Odegaard supports Liverpool - and has trained with their first team

Naturally, the elite giants of Europe came calling for the Norwegian following the hype. Manchester United and Bayern Munich invited the youngster to meet them - however, another team caught his eye.

Liverpool have always been my dream club,” Odegaard told German newspaper Bild in 2014. He even trained with the first team back when Brendan Rodgers was the manager. 

Maybe Liverpool could do with him back? Or perhaps a reunion with Rodgers at Leicester City could be on the cards one day? 

For now, Arsenal is the destination – they were also interested back in the day, too.

4. FourFourTwo included him in our most exciting youngsters list - before he was on the cusp of Real Madrid

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FourFourTwo have followed Odegaard from the start, including him in our '23 under 23' feature in 2015.

“Indeed, in the modest world of Norwegian club football, Odegaard is highly cultured,” Thore Haugstaud reported back then. “His drive with the ball is excellent. He’ll pick it up in pockets of space and skip past opponents; shift the ball quickly between his feet; nutmeg defenders; perform Zidane-like pirouettes. His finesse and technical repertoire is already on a different level to most.”

Strange now to see comparisons to his current boss, right? Understandably, the wildly-exciting, left-footed attacker also drew comparisons to another legendary No.10.

“The New Messi tag is generally slapped on youngsters far too quickly, but with Odegaard it contains some truth,” Thore continued “The teenager is an attacking midfielder with a low centre of gravity, who specialises in rapid dribbling and incisive passes.”

“Ronny Deila [the Norwegian ex-Celtic manager, now at New York City FC] once described him as an untypical Norwegian player; considering the country’s recent record in major tournaments – they last reached one at Euro 2000 – that can only be a good thing.” 

5. He's made quite the impression on loan

As with many youngsters at big clubs, Odegaard has spent time developing away from Real Madrid.

Heerenveen first took him under their wing, where the youngster failed to make an impression in his first season. Some were quick to compare him to Freddy Adu but as Odegaard got more minutes in his second season, he began to look more assured. 

Real opted to send him to Vitesse, however, for his third season in Dutch football, where his development continued, before the 2019/20 season saw him join Basque side Real Sociedad for his first taste of regular La Liga football. The Norwegian was simply a revelation, hitting 16 goals and assists in all competitions and becoming the fulcrum of La Real's attack.

Real Sociedad wanted him again during this window. He was a huge hit with the fans.

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