Martin Odegaard could become Mesut Ozil with Knobs continuing Arsenal’s revival.
The young Norwegian playwright arrived in the Emirates the same day Ozil finally packed his bags for Fenerbahçe after paying off his £350,000-a-week contract.
And his growing influence at the heart of Mikel Arteta’s youth team is increasingly making Gunners fans forget about his former idol.
Because Odegaard is not only supplying the defense division pass that was once Ozil’s trademark, but he’s also putting in the kind of innings that always went well beyond his predecessor.
This month alone he has been involved in scoring more goals, scored the most chances and played more through balls than any other Premier League player.
During Sunday’s 5-0 cruise at outclassed Norwich, he scored Arsenal’s first two goals for Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney and was heavily involved in two more.
Arteta could not hide his joy, claiming: “Martin is playing wonderfully well.
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“He helps us a lot, he ties the team together and I’m really pleased with him.”
And Arteta has good reason to be impressed by Odegaard’s contribution, after continuing to search for a player who didn’t exactly dazzle during his first four months on loan.
A goal and two assists in 20 games last season justified the £1.8m loan fee Arsenal paid Real Madrid for his services last season.
But it was still a blow when the Spanish giants demanded £50 million to replace Odegaard’s permanent stay over the summer.
With Arsenal already splitting £74m for Ben White, Albert Sambi Loconga and Nuno Tavares, Real’s asking price was in danger of destroying Odegaard’s desire to stay in London.
And when Carlo Ancelotti was appointed manager he was even less confident of returning to the Bernabeu.
Because it was Ancelotti who dismissed Odegaard’s signing as a ‘PR exercise’ in January 2015, when he first joined them at the age of 16.
So when the player failed to make Ancelotti’s squad for the opening games of the new season, Arsenal knew Real could be open to talks.
Encouraged by Arteta, director of football Edu returned with a £30m bid and a further promise of £5m in potential bonuses.
And it was only when that offer was accepted that Arsenal gave Ozil the green light to leave as a free agent.
Ozil had spent eight years at the Emirates, yet his contribution was almost negligible when Arsene Wenger was replaced as manager by Unai Emery and then Arteta.
His work-rate and commitment were often questioned even during his early time at the club and he was not included in the team until the end of his stay due to his poor attitude and commitment.
Yet even as zil left Real Madrid feeling like he was doing Arsenal a favor, Odegaard has been a man on a mission to prove himself to all who wrote him.
He was never given a chance to prove his worth in Spain and didn’t exactly spoil the Premier League during his initial loan at Arsenal.
But her recent look justifies Arteta’s determination to give her such a prominent role in her much-loved project.
At just 23 years old, Odegaard fits perfectly into the ethos of the youngest team in the Premier League, featuring players such as Bukayo Saka, Emil Smith Roe, Aaron Ramsdale, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel White, Longonga and Tavares. are also included.
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When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was recently dropped from captaincy, Norway’s captain Odegaard was one of the names suggested for promotion to the leadership group.
Now the challenge for Odegaard is to maintain his December form on a long-term basis.
Saturday’s home game against Prem leaders Manchester City will be the perfect opportunity to go toe-to-toe with the very best.
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