By David Lovelock
Rumours suggesting that Mikel Arteta would land one of his big targets this summer in Norwegian starlet, Martin Odegaard, started even before the player went back to Real Madrid. The 22-year-old was keen on a move away from Real Madrid, it was said, and Los Blancos were ready to sell. What could possibly go wrong?
But of course given the number of rumours floating around we were never sure what would happen until it did.
Everyone agreed this was an area that needed to be strengthened if Arsenal were to have a better season than last, and Arteta obviously knew this. The best betting sites currently have the Gunners priced just out of the top 6 for this campaign at around 7/4 with most, and just behind Leicester. However, this doesn’t take into account Arsenal doing a sensible bit of business in the window in recruiting a creative midfielder, and they could be the dark horses for not only a European spot but a Champions League one.
Touted as the next big thing several years ago, Odegaard was never really given his chance in the Spanish capital. He has produced the goods on loan though at Real Sociedad and impressed in an Arsenal shirt for the second part of the league campaign last year. He was the catalyst for Arsenal’s epic comeback away to West Ham United when he inspired his side to earn a point after going 3-0 down. He showed he is a player bursting with potential and that in the right setting he will be one of the best midfielders in Europe.
So, what is the price tag? At £36 million (the price quoted by Transfermarkt.com) Arsenal got a good deal given his age, ability and potential. And having splashed £50 million on English defender Ben White, it always looked like a no brainer. There was talk of another season-long loan with the option to buy to keep funds free for another big name signing. But Real Madrid were never likely to accept that.
Defence seems to be tightened with the introduction of Daniel Oyegoke, Nuno Tavares and Ben White so surely a look at attacking and creative midfielders was the obvious next step, once Joe Willock left. Granit Xhaka signed a contract extension which given his performances for Switzerland this summer and the latter part of last year looks like a good bit of business. Of course, not all so-called fans will be impressed but they never are.
The Gunners also have been tracking some top talent including the likes of Manuel Locatelli. The young Italian midfielder helped Italy win Euro 2020, but interest has died down as the 23-year-old has always said he would prefer a move to Juventus which he looks to have sealed.
They have also been linked with Leicester’s James Maddison. The creative midfielder is an experienced Premier League footballer having made 99 appearances so far, providing 21 goals and 15 assists along the way. At only 24 he still has plenty of his career ahead of him and was in fine form last season and has shown interest in joining Arteta’s new-look side. However, with Odegaard signing then the likes of Youri Tielemans or Wilfred Ndidi might be preferred targets in the future. They offer a more aggressive style, and they may also not be as hefty in price as Maddison which is reportedly around £60 million.
Odegaard is a positive signing for Arteta, and we’d hope that there will be more than just him through the door before the next transfer deadline.
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