Finally a good bit of business from Arsenal this transfer window! Several reports started swirling around on Tuesday that the Gunners were closing in on a deal worth around €35m (£30m) to sign Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a five-year deal. Now that appears true, and imminent.
While some fans do not see it as the ‘big’ transfer needed, the fact is that Arsenal is getting a seriously talented young player and have not broken the bank to do so.
After it was made apparent by Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti that Odegaard was not going to be getting the first-team minutes he was craving, a move to north London suited all parties with Odegaard regularly praising his experience at the Emirates last season – he said he felt ‘at home’.
With a deal closing in, as per pretty much everyone, and hopefully in time to face Chelsea, the Gunners will land the player they’ve been linked with for most of the summer. After Odegaard impressed on loan at the Emirates last campaign, Mikel Arteta made it as clear as he could that he wanted him permanently. He’ll be one happy man.
More from Pain in the Arsenal
Arsenal signing Martin Odegaard constitutes great business as Mikel Arteta lands number on transfer target in the summer window
It was no secret that Odegaard was a popular player in the locker room, and it was his creativity and vision alongside Emile Smith Rowe that helped bring the best out of his teammates – predominately Alexandre Lacazette – as Arsenal won their last four Premier League games of what was a disappointing season.
The sale of Joe Willock to Newcastle was believed to be the extra push in terms of finance to get the deal done. Having made 20 appearances in his six-month loan spell, resulting in two goals, and recording the highest xA and key passes per 90 of any other Arsenal player, it is now clear that both Arteta and Edu see him as a better option than James Maddison. Certainly more financially viable.
Many of the Arsenal fanbase had their hopes set on Maddison from Leicester but in Odegaard, they have someone who is just as good, younger, and significantly cheaper. Another key point about this deal is that Arsenal is getting Odegaard for less than what Aston Villa paid for Emi Buendia. Considering Arsenal ‘missed out’ on him (they didn’t), that adds to the allure. They weren’t going to pay more than what they offered for the Argentine.
While Odegaard is not the shiny new toy that many Arsenal fans wanted, he is a solid addition for the north London side. He boasts plenty of potential, a huge ceiling and it’s very easy to forget he is still only 22 years old.
Last season, he completed 86.4% of his passes in the league, had an xA of 0.22/per 90 (behind only Gabriel Martinelli), and made more passes into the penalty box (1.88/per 90) than all bar Willian. So if Arsenal’s frontmen were slightly more prolific, which they hopefully will be this season, Odegaard’s numbers are sure to increase.
On top of that, he did this while acclimating to a new division and country mid-season as well as dealing with an ankle injury; at his age, the deal gets better the more you delve into it. It seems that Arsenal did not pay over the odds in getting this deal done and what it can do now is still leave funds for other targets.
Sheffield United keeper Aaron Ramsdale is still the Gunners’ top target (which I like so many am still unsure about given the fee involved), but also another name that has not gone away is midfielder Houseem Aouar from Lyon. Whether or not the Gunners will pursue him is another thing, but the club could cash in on the French side’s financial issues and get him at a bargain.
Arsenal is hoping that Odegaard will be available for this weekend’s clash with Chelsea, and although there is still a bit to play out with this deal, he is in London preparing for his medical. It has moved rather quickly in recent days, and should he be eligible to play, then it would be a welcome boost to Arteta and his side.
Make of it what you will, but in Odegaard, Arsenal is getting some much-needed creativity, a player with Premier League experience and all at around £20m. You can’t not be happy about that.