Five alternatives for Arsenal now that Odegaard is staying with Madrid
Martin Odegaard will not be returning to Arsenal from Real Madrid this summer, the Norwegian himself has confirmed.
After seeing first-team opportunities hard to come by under Zinedine Zidane in the first half of the 2020/21 campaign, the 22-year-old was allowed to leave on loan to aid his development.
A return to Real Sociedad and a switch to Sevilla were mentioned, but Arsenal won the race to take him on loan for six months.
Odegaard was a hit at the Emirates, so much so that Arsenal looked into the possibility of signing him on a permanent basis.
However, the player himself confirmed to Norwegian media outlet TV 2 this week that he will be at Real Madrid next season.
So, who could Arsenal target as an alternative?
Rodrigo De Paul
The deal to send Rodrigo De Paul to Atletico Madrid from Udinese was believed to be close to a done deal, but sporting director of the Italian side Pierpaolo Marino recently claimed it was by no means close, saying:
“There are negotiations, and the ones with Atletico Madrid are the most advanced, but the distances are still considerable.”
“Other clubs remain with an interest in the player, there are many clubs who want him. The negotiations have not yet taken off.”
Liverpool are interested, too, so it would be a tough task for Arsenal to convince De Paul to join without the promise of European football.
Though James Maddison had his injury problems last season as he started just 24/38 league games, he still contributed 11 goals and nine assists in all competitions in 2020/21.
Around February he would suffer from a hip injury which all but ended his contention for a place in the England squad for Euro 2020.
He still retains an outstanding reputation, however, and Arsenal believe a deal can be struck despite Leicester City's tendency to get big bucks for their players in recent years.
According to reports, Leicester rejected an offer of around £70 million from an unnamed Premier League side last summer for Maddison, so he may be out of Arsenal's price range.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for talented attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir since his days at Lyon, and the links haven't went away even after his surprise transfer to Real Betis in 2019.
Fekir very nearly joined Liverpool in 2018 before an injury scuppered the deal, but Arsenal remain keen on bringing him to the Premier League.
Spanish outlet AS reports that they have already bid £20 million for the 27-year-old, but Betis consider him one of their best players and will not accept any knockdown offers.
The club's current financial situation due to the pandemic means they will need to look at any meaningful offer, however.
Like the entire Turkey squad, Yusuf Yazici may have had a shocking Euros, but he is coming off a good season for Lille in which he helped them to an unlikely Ligue 1 title, even if he wasn't an automatic starter.
Unfortunately for Lille, there is always the possibility of their title-winning side being ripped apart by bigger clubs, and Yazici has been linked with a possible transfer away.
He may have only started 10 matches in the league, but he contributed seven goals and four assists in that time.
The name most fans will be pining for is Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, who has been strongly linked with the Gunners for over a year now.
Aouar himself reportedly wanted to move to the Emirates a year ago only for Arsenal to fail to meet Lyon's asking price.
One major issue here is that the acquisition of the Frenchman would not necessarily sort Arsenal's number 10 position where Odegaard was deployed as Aouar tends to play in a deeper role.
Juventus want him too, so Mikel Arteta and his recruitment staff need to act quickly on this deal before they lose out on him just like with Emiliano Buendia joining Aston Villa.