Martin Odegaard: Why Arsenal signed the Real Madrid playmaker

Robin Bairner
Martin Odegaard, Arsenal, 2021/22

Martin Odegaard became Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer transfer window on Friday, with the official announcement that his move from Real Madrid had been completed.

Odegaard spent the second half of last season on loan with the Emirates club, chalking up two goals and a couple of assists in 20 matches.

Nevertheless, that is a scant return for the £30 million that Arsenal will pay Madrid up front for the playmaker, and they will expect more from the 22-year-old in the months and years ahead.

Arsenal had studied other options to provide support for youngster Emile Smith Rowe in a creative midfield role. None of these proved suitable, however.

Emiliano Buendia turned down the chance to move to the Gunners and instead elected to join Aston Villa, while a swoop for Leicester’s James Maddison was quickly given up on in light of the Foxes astronomical £100m asking price for the England international.

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Initially it seemed that Odegaard might prove too pricey for them, too. However, Real Madrid’s initial valuation was whittled down by the Gunners, who were aware that the Bernabeu side’s financial position was not strong.

Meanwhile, Odegaard had shown enough promise in his stint last season to suggest that he will improve his production for the side in the long term.

Speaking to the media immediately after the announcement was made, manager Mikel Arteta explained why the deal was conducted.

We needed more options, more alternatives, creativity and players that can be models in this football club
- Mikel Arteta

“Well a lot of things that he brought last season. He made us better,” the Spaniard said. “We needed more options, more alternatives, creativity and players that can be models in this football club. I am delighted the club has made an effort and we have Martin here.”

Indeed, it is notable that Odegaard does not have too many competitors in the No.10 slot for the Gunners. Beyond Smith Rowe, there is not a natural in that position.

Although Arsenal have been the biggest spenders in the transfer window this summer, their window has been criticised for being full of superfluous and over-priced additions. Odegaard’s arrival from Real Madrid is certainly not that.