Arsenal FC

Arsenal should take gamble on permanent Martin Odegaard signing

By Harry Symeou
May 13, 2021, 4:30 PM GMT+1
Martin Odegaard is due to return to Real Madrid at the end of the season
Martin Odegaard is due to return to Real Madrid at the end of the season / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

As things stand, Martin Odegaard's Arsenal stay is due to end this summer before the Norwegian heads back to parent club Real Madrid.

Throughout the season, Mikel Arteta's Gunners have struggled for creativity and while they may have improved defensively - boasting the joint third-best defensive record in the division - in the final third they've been a shadow of the team we once knew.

Having signed for the north London club on loan in January, the deal for Odegaard made perfect sense. The 22-year-old was desperate to prove his class and Los Blancos wrong for overlooking his talent, and Arsenal recruited themselves a creative solution without breaking the bank at a time of financial difficulty. It seemed like a great bit of business.

However, with the summer transfer window fast approaching, has he done enough to warrant the significant investment it would require for the Gunners to make his stay permanent?

Assuming Odegaard wants to stay, the Premier League giants would need to pull out all the stops given the La Liga club have made it clear on numerous occasions since his temporary switch they have no intention of selling.

Given the situation at Real Madrid, there's a feeling that anything in the region of €35-40m would tempt them into a sale as they look to strengthen in other areas but what would stumping up that sort of money mean for Arsenal's wider plans this summer?

In an ideal world, the decision around whether it's worth signing Odegaard would be based solely on his performances, but the reality is that the squad is in need of major surgery and barring an uncharacteristic investment from KSE they're unlikely to have the funds to do it. You get the feeling the bigger picture around the club and its finances will dictate whether or not a deal is feasible, not ideal.

Odegaard celebrating his goal against Tottenham / DAN MULLAN/Getty Images

Arteta has however called for the club to be ruthless this summer, so in terms of the attacking midfielder's outputs, how has he fared? He's managed just two goals in 18 appearances and is yet to register an assist. The numbers don't make great reading but prior to his recent injury, Odegaard's influence was growing.

His ability to pop up in pockets of space, control the ball flawlessly and accurately pick out teammates when at his best brought a rhythm to the side in attack they had been missing prior to his arrival.

His only Premier League goal so far came in the north London derby victory in March and he was instrumental in Arsenal's fightback from three goals down at the London Stadium against West Ham the following weekend.

Martin Odegaard
Odegaard was instrumental in Arsenal's dramatic comeback at West Ham / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

One of the key factors that would have led to Odegaard being signed in the first place would have undoubtedly been a concern over Emile Smith Rowe's fitness record. The 20-year-old has all the attributes of a fine attacking midfield player but has broken down far too frequently with injuries this season.

However, it's important to consider it's not even been six months since Odegaard arrived in London and, as such, he is likely to improve further as he becomes more accustomed to the English game and his surroundings. Arteta has often praised the loanee's application in training, his general attitude towards the game and has spoken of his motivation to succeed. Based on all of the above and the frequency with which he's been selected even when both his attacking midfielders are available, it's fair to assume the Spaniard isn't against the idea of playing both in the same XI.

Odegaard hasn't exactly set the Premier League on fire but bubbling away under the surface is a top talent waiting to erupt and, finances permitting, one worthy of taking a gamble on.