Martin Odegaard’s trip to Arsenal, Real Madrid Wonderkid and four loan spells


Martin Odegaard has been weighed down with expectations his entire life.

Erling Haaland is now the undisputed Norwegian prodigy, but despite being only a year older than his international team-mate, Odegaard has held the title much longer.

Odegaard was a YouTube sensation, a regular in gossip and a football curiosity even before signing his first professional contract.

From his humble beginnings at Drammen, the midfielder has been propelled to stardom by his unique talents.

The early days of his career were littered with records, rave reviews and excitement.

After coming off the bench to make his debut and turn things around against Aalesunds for childhood club Stromsgodset, his manager Ronny Deila called him “the greatest talent I’ve seen”.

He was only 15 years and 118 days old.

Odegaard was excited from his debut at Stromsgodset in Norway


Braastad, Audun / AFP via Getty Images)

It wasn’t even when he entered the radars of the biggest European clubs. It happened when he was 14.

“He has offers from two clubs in Italy and one club in Spain,” said his father, Hans Erik Odegaard. Josimar in December 2014. “If not, you can probably start listing the top clubs that have shown interest. ”

After a few short but sparkling seasons for Stromsgodset, which included five goals and seven assists in 23 appearances, it was Real Madrid who beat around 30 clubs in the race for his signing.

It was a move heralded as the start of a long and illustrious career with Los Blancos. But six years later, Odegaard moved on, joining Arsenal on a four-year contract after making just 11 appearances for Real.

High expectations

Odegaard joined Real Madrid from Stromgodset in 2015 when he was just 16


Denis Doyle / Getty Images)

Odegaard trained with Liverpool and Bayern Munich – and visited Arsenal – before signing with Real Madrid in January 2015.

To close the deal, Real had to pay Stromsgodset an initial £ 2.3million and more insurance to come via add-ons.

They have promised the 16-year-old will be able to train with Carlo Ancelotti’s first team, even though he will play for the club’s B team. Meanwhile, according to Spanish media reports, Real Madrid were ready to offer Odegaard’s father a coaching role with his youth teams.

While Odegaard was still a teenager and insisted his goals were modest – “to become a better footballer,” he said during his unveiling – the pressure to succeed was clear.

Real’s assured reputation as the “biggest club in the world” and the brilliance of the media meant that both sides were under pressure to transform this rough diamond into a high-end piece of jewelry.

“It was a little crazy then to be honest,” Odegaard told BT Sport in March.

“I was so young that I didn’t know what was going on. When you have Real Madrid behind your name, there will always be high expectations. “

Bumps in the road

Odegaard carried the weight of expectations on his shoulders throughout his career


NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Expectations may have been high but, as is often the case, the reality was different.

Odegaard’s training with Ancelotti’s first team five days a week and then his parachuting into Zinedine Zidane’s Castilla B team didn’t go well.

The 16-year-old rubbed shoulders with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale every week before playing in Spain’s Third Division against players like Barakaldo and Las Palmas B.

It was not a successful compromise – and it only took three months for things to unravel.

Castilla have lost four games in a row and Zidane has decided to drop the Norwegian star.

Although Ancelotti kept telling the media that patience was needed, negative reports inevitably followed.

A report released by AS in early April 2015 stated that “back office staff believe that with Odegaard on the squad, Castilla is playing more like a 10-man squad.”

He went on to say that “some players have complained that the teenager cannot be bothered by his Castilla team-mates and only wants to be with Cristiano Ronaldo”.

Odegaard trained with Ancelotti’s first team, but played for Zidane’s B team


Angel Martinez / Real Madrid via Getty Images)

Odegaard made headlines – this time for good reason – when he made his first-team debut in Real’s last game of the season against Getafe. In doing so, he became the youngest debutant in club history, aged just 16 years and 157 days.

The 2015/16 season was more settled with Castilla and, 679 days after signing for the club, he made his full debut for the club in a Copa del Rey game against Cultural Leonesa.

This did not turn out to be a sign of things to come and, after five goals in 62 third division games for Castilla, he was sent off from the club.

The life of a lender

In January 2017, it was estimated that Odegaard would benefit from a loan transfer. Heerenveen was chosen and the youngster moved to the Netherlands.

The idea could have been to take him out of the spotlight and take the strain off his 18-year-old shoulders. But, despite their best efforts, Odegaard was still a big fish in a relatively small pond – if only by reputation.

His first press conference ordered more TV cameras than Heerenveen manager Jurgen Streppel had ever seen.

“It’s a special day for us,” Heerenveen technical director Luuc Eisenga told Norwegian television station TV2.

“We’ve had great players here before, but that such talent has chosen to come here is really special. It’s a talent that will improve the whole league. “

Cameras followed Odegaard wherever he went



Odegaard’s special status was further underscored by a question during his unveiling. A Dutch journalist asked the teenage sensation what he thought of his label Wonderkid.

“It’s up to others to call me that,” replied the prodigy. “I’m just a normal boy.”

There have been three assists and one goal in his 16 Eredivisie appearances in the second half of the 2017/18 season as Heerenveen finished eighth.

He contributed two goals and an assist in 24 appearances the following season and was rewarded with another loan, this time to Vitesse Arnhem.

While it may have looked like a side step, it turned out to be good for Odegaard, who played with nine goals and 12 assists in 35 Eredivisie appearances as Vitesse finished fifth.

Find his feet

The time has come for a return to Spain, but not with Real Madrid. Instead, Real Sociedad loaned him out – and they were delighted with the results.

Odegaard has been fantastic in San Sebastian, scoring four goals and six assists in La Liga and helping the club win the 2020 Copa del Rey.

He was one of the best players in Spain’s top flight and even helped take his parent club out of the Copa del Rey.

Odegaard had a brilliant season with Real Sociedad


Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images)

Real Sociedad did not want to lose him and his impact was such that it took a player of David Silva’s quality to replace him.

“Martin gave us so much on the pitch with his goals, his assists, his presence,” said Real Sociedad defender Nacho Monreal. The Guardian .

“We were a bit orphans when he left but the club handled it very well and especially very quickly. In less than two days, we had gone from losing Odegaard to signing Silva.

London call

Odegaard returned to Real Madrid where a calf injury and coronavirus stood in the way of further progress, before Arsenal called in January.

Two goals and two assists in 20 Premier League and Europa League appearances don’t tell you much about his time in north London.

The fact that Arsenal want to shell out £ 30million, give him a four-year contract and build the squad around him, echoing that of another Real Madrid signing – Mesut Ozil – in 2013, you get in said a lot more.

Will Martin Odegaard be a success at Arsenal? Give your opinion in the comments section below.

Odegaard may have finally found a place to settle down with Arsenal


Andy Rain – Pool / Getty Images)

Now, having finally shed the Wonderkid tag and landed at a club where he feels wanted, Odegaard may be able to settle in and play his natural game.

Odegaard has always admired his father, Hans Erik Odegaard, who played 260 games for Stromsgodset and shaped his vision for the game.

“Dad never talked about winning, about being the best,” Odegaard told Josimar seven years ago.

“It was all about development. About improving a little bit all the time. It should be fun, stress free, harmless.

“He always says it’s safe to make mistakes. He wants me to make a mistake and try again. He has always encouraged the use of the ball.

Odegaard showed a glimpse of this approach during the later stages of the 2020/21 season. Arsenal hope there will be a lot more to come.

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