Why Arsenal pushed so quick for Odegaard deal

Martin Macdonald
Martin Odegaard is becoming an increasingly prominent player at Arsenal after arriving from Real Madrid

Arsenal have agreed a deal in principle to sign Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard for an initial fee of around €35m.

With Real Madrid making no signings last summer in the pandemic, Odegaard'a loan move to Sociedad was finished early so that he could be brought back as a member of the first team squad at Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite starting the first two games of the season under Zinedine Zidane, Odegaard fell out of favour thereafter, and would only start one other La Liga game before January.

Though then head coach Zidane reportedly wanted to keep Odegaard at Real Madrid for the second half of the season, the player’s wish was to leave for some first-team football, which led to Arsenal taking him for six months.

The Norwegian was a hit at the Emirates, and soon eased fears that he would hamper the development of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka by striking up an impressive partnership with the young Arsenal duo.

Though manager Mikel Arteta would subsequently campaign for the club to sign Odegaard permanently, he would ultimately return to Madrid and say his goodbyes at Arsenal.

Now, though, the transfer is set to happen, as Odegaard clearly is not part of Carlo Ancelotti's plans at Santiago Bernabeu.

There has reportedly been a rather quick turnaround for this deal, but why?

Odegaard to Arsenal

Arteta has prioritised the acquisition of a number 10 this summer to play alongside Smith Rowe and Saka in an attacking midfield triumvirate.

After Odegaard returned to Real Madrid, attention left the Norwegian on to other targets.

James Maddison subsequently became the number one target.

However, Leicester allegedly rejected a £60m offer last summer for Maddison, meaning that any offer Arsenal provided a year later would need to be more - probably significantly more.

The player is in the middle of a five-year deal which was only signed last season, too, which means Leicester hold a very strong position in negotiations.

On Wednesday, target Manuel Locatelli was spotted at Juventus' training ground ahead of an expected transfer from Sassuolo, and that only catalysed the Gunners to step up their pursuit of Odegaard rather than losing out on another target.

Following the defeat versus Brentford on the opening day of the season, Arsenal face a tough task this weekend when they face Chelsea.

Arteta wants Odegaard involved in that game, and in order for it to happen he must be registered as an Arsenal player before noon on Friday, hence the rapid turnaround of the deal.

Crucially, Odegaard has been doubly vaccinated and would not need to isolate upon his return to North London.