January 31, 2023

Martin Odegaard at Arsenal and Martin Odegaard at Real Madrid feel like two different players and it’s easy to forget they’re the same person.

The Odegaard at Madrid had joined in 2014/15 and became the youngest player ever to make his debut in their colours. From then on, it was a string of loan spells in the Netherlands followed by stints at Real Sociedad and Vitesse.

It was during this process that he was next sent to Arsenal on a temporary spell and something clicked very hard.

Arsenal recognised the potential in him which Madrid never did and the midfielder ended up joining for a fee of £30 million.

In our current inflated market, £30m doesn’t seem like a huge fee for someone as talented as Odegaard. And it’s baffling to think Los Blancos let a future star like him leave so easily.

In the summer of 2021, Martin moved to the Emirates permanently and there’s been no looking back since then. But why did Madrid let him go like this?

Madrid couldn’t guarantee minutes

Well, for a club like Madrid that’s filled with superstars and talented youngsters, Odegaard was just another player coming through the ranks.

He wanted a starting place but had established players  Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ahead of him, as well as Isco and Federico Valverde pushing from the bench. Considering how young he was, Zinedine Zidane understandably was cautious about starting him regularly.

Odegaard also spent a fair amount of time injured, which pushed him further below the pecking order despite a solid loan at Real Sociedad.

After just 233 minutes with Real Madrid in La Liga 2020/21, he then arrived at Arsenal on a short-term spell.

Odegaard didn’t set the world on fire on Arsenal loan

The point is, the Norwegian didn’t really drive his market price upwards as he didn’t replicate his Real Sociedad level a year before. Transfermarkt, although it can’t be the precise method to estimate a player’s value, reflects that:

Martin wanted to leave

That’s not all – Odegaard was smart enough to realise there is no way he will be a regular starter anytime soon.

€35 million is still good money

Granted, now Odegaard is worth much more but back in 2021, €35 million for him was fair money. In fact, this made him one of Real Madrid’s most expensive departures ever — not bad for someone who barely played for them and didn’t really shine for us.

Furthermore, Real Madrid are known to let players leave for relatively fair prices when they choose to do so. Recent examples are Raphael Varane and Casemiro – both players who joined Manchester United despite being key senior members of the squad. In comparison, Odegaard was not even a regular starter at the time.

Today, Odegaard is our captain, an inspiration for the youngsters and a well-rounded midfielder who can change the game on any given day. He’s an undroppable for Mikel Arteta as he leads our charge for the Premier League title in 2022/23.

With seven goals and five assists to his name already this season, the 24-year-old is showing Real Madrid exactly what they missed out on.

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