I was wrong. When we first learned that Real Madrid’s attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard would take his talents to North London, I thought that would be a big step for the Norwegian. It seemed like an opportunity for him to raise a team that could be competitive and to work with quality veterans like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and young ascendant players like Bukayo Saka.
And then I was wrong again when I said that Odegaard looked to be on the verge of regaining his form at Real Sociedad after a sensational display against a West Ham side who were stronger than Arsenal. Odegaard was the best player on the pitch at some distance, registering four key passes and four dribbles completed in a 3-3 draw, by WhoScored.com.
Since that March 21 game, Odegaard has had a great game against Newcastle United and a bench assist against Crystal Palace. Basically other than a few good creative numbers against two of the Premier League’s worst teams, Odegaard has done very little. And Arsenal were a lost cause, hovering in the middle of the table, currently sitting ninth place just two points clear of Leeds United.
Odegaard has made eight starts and five bench appearances for Arsenal since arriving this winter. Basically he’s had little time to level up, and although he’s shown some quality flashes, he’s been a glorified rotating player on a mediocre squad.
Why did Martin Odegaard trust Mikel Arteta to help him more than Zinedine Zidane?
Many of us thought Arsenal would be a good opportunity for Odegaard to face some pressure in the Premier League and help make a team more than the sum of its parts. Instead, he worked with a manager who is out of his depth in Mikel Arteta, who looks more like a charlatan than a competent disciplinarian he thinks he is.
More than The real fields
Odegaard’s comments on his future were a bit odd and even angered some Madridistas, because while many lenders have expressed their desire to start for Real Madrid in the future, Odegaard has played shyly.
I don’t understand what he saw at Arsenal. This club is currently run by one of the most incompetent owners in football, if not THE most incompetent when you look at where the club was located before Stan Kroenke bought the club. There is talent in the team, but you can’t really tell that someone is being used optimally.
And from Arsenal’s perspective, they’d better invest their time and energy in other players, especially their local youngsters. They need to build something sustainable, and I don’t think Odegaard is one of them. It’s not like he blew anyone away on that loan despite a few good times.
Odegaard trusted Arteta and wanted a challenge at Arsenal. He played more minutes than he would have at Real Madrid, but how many more?
Because Odegaard could have had real opportunities with the first team to spell overloaded Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, and he could have played a Champions League role instead of scoring bangers against players like Olympiacos in Europa League. And by the way, Arsenal have been knocked out of the Europa League semi-finals and won’t even be in this secondary competition next season.
Martin Odegaard took a bet leaving Real Madrid, and it turned on him in the eyes of the fans
The truth is, Odegaard took a gamble on gaining playing time instead of remaining patient and trusting a legendary and successful Zinedine Zidane manager. I don’t blame him for wanting playing time, but it hasn’t helped his career.
He missed out on precious time playing for the squad that should feature in his future goals, and he was more of a talented but inconsistent player for a struggling team with no identity. And while some Arsenal fans want him to stay, it looks like a lot of them would rather save their money on someone else or focus on their own young talent.
Real Madrid will once again welcome Odegaard with open arms, but some Madridistas will be watching him a bit sidelong after this loan. Because for some fans, Odegaard, having fought for so many years and impressed in places like Vitesse and Real Sociedad, will feel that the Norwegian has unusually chosen the easy way out.
As players like Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola got down to work to gain Zidane’s trust, Odegaard, who the manager specifically asked to be part of his squad and started day one, left for a guy who never won anything as a manager.
Odegaard’s loan didn’t help him enough. Neither has helped Los Blancos. Not even Arsenal. And now, in 2021-2022, he has to make up for lost time for Real Madrid and show a side of his game that we haven’t seen since the first half of the 2019-20 season.
He is still young and his talent is not in question. However, Madridistas are starting to wonder if he wants to be an elite player here, or if he would rather get guaranteed minutes at a mid-sized club.
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In the end, it’s his choice, but it would be a bummer if he didn’t give his best for Madrid, which he probably should have done this season. And the way the fans perceive him, as we know, matters a lot in football, especially in Madrid. They have to put those feelings aside and support the young man 100%.
We know he can be a superstar at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he needs the full support of the fans. His chapter with Madrid is only just beginning, and I hope Odegaard himself is aware of that, even though the 2020-2021 season has been frustrating for him.