Martin Odegaard has been left out of the Real Madrid squad for the season and stripped of his squad number, with a price tag set for his signature as Arsenal continue to pursue a permanent transfer.
After he spent the second half of last season on loan at Arsenal, Odegaard has been a top target at the Emirates Stadium. He made a positive impression during his short stay in north London and they want to make his association with the club long-term. However, prising him away from parent club Madrid has been difficult so far.
It seemed Arsenal were giving up on Odegaard, but their pursuit reignited recently. Reports suggested Mikel Arteta was doing everything in his power to get the playmaker back. Those rumours have been followed by confirmation that the Norwegian is one of Arsenal’s top targets, along with James Maddison.
The Gunners will make a straight decision between the Leicester man and Odegaard. But the deal for the player with prior Arsenal experience is looking like the easier one to complete.
Now, they have been boosted on three fronts. Madrid have omitted Odegaard from their La Liga squad list for the 2021-22 season, suggesting his future may lie elsewhere. In a further indication of this, they have not assigned him a squad number. His old number 21 shirt has gone to Rodrygo.
Amid those developments, Goal claim that Los Blancos are willing to sell Odegaard for €40m. Eager to get him off the books if Carlo Ancelotti has no place in his plans for him, they are inviting offers.
Arsenal could thus be encouraged to launch a new attempt to sign the 22-year-old. He made 14 Premier League appearances last season, nine of which were starts, providing one goal and two assists.
While they have exercised caution over spending big on Odegaard so far, Arsenal are more likely to be able to fund the deal now. After selling Joe Willock to Newcastle after his own positive loan spell, they have deeper pockets.
Just two years remain on Odegaard’s contract back at the Bernabeu. Although Madrid chiefs have shown faith in him from a young age, it may be an optimal time to sell him.
Arsenal will be attentive to the situation. They started their Premier League season with a surprise loss to Brentford, a game in which Emile Smith Rowe started in the number 10 role.
In addition to the academy graduate’s talent, it would help to have more depth in that position. With that in mind, they will be hopeful of getting Odegaard back before the transfer window closes.
Pundit outlines Arsenal concern
Last season, Arsenal missed out on European qualification for the first time in the 21st Century. And things did not get off to an ideal start for the new campaign with the loss to Brentford.
Following the game, Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville admitted his concern for Arteta’s side.
“They got messed around. A game of football is really difficult when you are getting messed around by the opposition’s centre-forwards. And that has happened from minute one tonight,” Neville said.
“It is the little flick-ons, it’s getting nudged, it is the long throws, the free-kicks, all of which mean you’re not in control of the game.
“You hear Thomas Frank after the match saying how they could do Arsenal on set-pieces; there’s nothing worse than thinking your team is a little bit soft.
“Arsenal fans will go away tonight thinking we have been bullied.
“I don’t mean ‘bullied’ like Wimbledon 25 years ago but in the modern game, that is being messed around. That is being bullied.
“Because Brentford have looked at them and thought, ‘yeah, we will have you, we will nudge you, throw you to the ground’, and that is the worst thing.”
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