Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard is expected to join Arsenal on loan in the coming days but there are doubts about whether he can add the flair that the Gunners (4/1 Top 6 Finish) feel they are missing.
The Norwegian is said to have flown to London on Sunday and with a medical planned for Monday, a deal until the summer could be imminent.
Arsenal are looking for inspiration, with them currently 11th in the Premier League ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Southampton (Match Betting – Southampton 11/5, Draw 12/5, Arsenal 13/10).
Mikel Arteta’s men were poor against the Saints in the FA Cup on Saturday, going down 1-0, but know a win at St Mary’s will move them above their opponents and within touching distance of the European spots.
Odegaard has been at the Bernabeu for six years. But, like so many before him, has perhaps been a victim of Real’s desire for immediate success, rather steady growth.
Loan spells in the Eredivisie at Heerenveen and Vitesse demonstrated his quality but it was last term at Real Sociedad where he made people truly sit up and take notice, netting four times in 31 appearances and being named La Liga Player of the Month in September 2019.
Real recalled him in the close season but he has managed just nine appearances since and at 22, he needs regular games.
Arteta has made no secret of his desire to add attacking quality in the current window and Odegaard certainly has that in abundance. However, similar to the Denis Suarez deal in January 2019, his lack of game time is a worry and he is unlikely to be ready to slot straight in.
That was the view taken by former Gunners’ star Alan Smith over the weekend. The striker-turned-pundit told Astro SuperSport that he didn’t see the player walking into the team “by any stretch” and even warned that his issues at Real may mean he “can’t offer anything”.
Even so, he should get minutes once he is up to speed and won’t have the spectre of Mezut Ozil looming after the German’s departure to Fenerbahce, 10 months after his last Arsenal appearance.
Ozil also arrived from Real, joining in 2013. He went on to help the club win three FA Cups, while also playing an instrumental role in his country’s World Cup 2014 success.
The former Schalke and Werder Bremen man became known as an assist machine, wracking up 54 in his 184 Premier League games, as well as 33 goals.
However, the 32-year-old struggled for consistency and his exit seems part of Arteta’s plan to cleanse the squad of what he perceives to be disruptive influences, with fellow German speakers Sead Kolašinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also leaving this month.
As a player, Odegaard is in a similar mould to Ozil. A diminutive left-footed playmaker, he can also drift wide to create space.
The Drammen-born starlet has time on his side. However, with fitness doubts hanging over him, he may struggle to inspire Arsenal to their much-desired top-four finish, for which they are priced at 14/1.