Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has hinted that Martin Odegaard has what it takes to be the club’s next permanent captain after praising the player’s attitude and connection with the fans.
Odegaard initially joined the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid in January 2021, before eventually completing a permanent deal in summer worth £30m plus add-ons.
The 23-year-old is now regularly proving his worth for an Arsenal side that is getting progressively better and more consistent after an awful start to the season.
Arsenal have promoted Alexandre Lacazette to captain after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the armband in December and soon left the club under a dark cloud. But with the 30-year-old Frenchman also expected to be on the way out when his contract expires in summer, Arteta will have to appoint a longer-term skipper sooner rather than later.
Influence from his formative years at Barcelona has seen Arteta install a captaincy hierarchy at the Emirates Stadium. Kieran Tierney is current vice-captain, with ex-skipper Granit Xhaka third captain and Rob Holding the fourth captain in the squad.
Xhaka, who was stripped of the captaincy in 2019, refused to take the armband when Lacazette was substituted during Arsenal’s win over Brentford out of respect for the hierarchy.
Having Odegaard as the club’s next permanent captain, potentially next season, would mean the Norwegian youngster coming from nowhere to lead the hierarchy.
He has only been in north London for 13 months but is already an international captain and Arteta has even spoken to Norway coach Stale Solbakken about it.
“He certainly has all the qualities to [be Arsenal captain],” Arteta said.
“Talking to his national team coach and how highly they speak of him. He walks through the corridor and everybody loves him. He’s such a nice, humble guy and leads with the way he is. It is very natural for him and that will come.”
The Arsenal boss added, “He's got a really good connection with the players and the supporters [last season]. He wanted to be part of the project. Since then, he’s getting better and better, and I’m not surprised. The way he lives his profession, the way he likes to play football and everything he does is to become better. He wants it probably more than anyone else on that pitch, every single day.”