Once news emerged that Arsenal were in talks to extend Martin Odegaard’s contract, fan sentiment emerged in the same fashion as a link to a new signing would do.
It has long been known how integral the midfielder is to both club and Mikel Arteta. Take his strong start to this season, having already struck three goals in six appearances, kicking off from the last campaign which saw the Gunners captain earn a place on the Ballon D’Or list.
He embodies Arsenal. A vital cog in a machine which is already looking a menace for opposition; the 4-0 victory over PSV on Wednesday an example. And, after days of talks between club and representatives, a long-term deal keeping Odegaard in North London to the summer of 2028 has now officially been signed. A major coup for both sides.
The chance to win trophies has, invariably, played a part.
‘It was an easy decision for me,’ he says. ‘I felt connected and I felt at home here since the first day. And also I was moving around a lot and struggling to really settle down, so I felt like I needed a place to come and settle down and to kind of find a home.
Martin Odegaard has signed a contract extension, keeping him at Arsenal until 2028
Odegaard said it was an easy decision at the ‘people at the club and the fans are amazing’
Odegaard said trophies are on his mind but insisted he wanted to win them with Arsenal
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‘(There are) amazing people here at the club, the fans as well, everything around the club is just a good match for me.
‘Of course, I am thinking about it (winning trophies). That is the big dream, the big goal, to win things with the club. That’s why I have signed here as well, because I believe we can achieve some great things.’
It comes ahead of this Sunday’s hotly-anticipated North London derby against famed rivals Tottenham. Or ‘the big one’, as he calls it.
‘I think when I first came here I knew straight away going into that game that this was something special,’ he says.
‘You can just feel it at the training ground, on social media. Even though I try not to focus too much on social media. you still see it and feel it from the fans. It’s a special one and it’s game we look forward to, to play here at home with the fans. It’s one of those games you really enjoy playing and it will be a nice one.’
It’s been a long road from his days at Real Madrid, which saw the Norwegian shunted out on consecutive loan spells following such hype around this ‘next big thing’.
Odegaard moved to Arsenal on loan in 2021, before signing a four-year deal which was initially met by scepticism. Could the wonderkid meet the expectations heralded by his Madrid label? Definitely so. A ‘special feeling’ has since developed for a club he admired as a teenager.
‘In Madrid it was just a bit different,’ he explains. ‘I was very young, I was stuck between the first and second teams. So I never really got the time to settle down.
He joined on loan in 2021, before signing a four-year deal which was met by scepticism
However, Odegaard has proven himself at the North London club and look to continue doing so
The connection to Mikel Arteta has played a part, too, the 24-year-old’s footballing acumen having been transformed under the Spaniard
‘At Arsenal I’ve always had this special feeling. Even before I came here, I remember playing FIFA and I was always Arsenal. I had a good feeling about the club and I brought myself here. Just from the first day I felt this was a good place to be. So it’s a good feeling to stay longer.’
The connection to Arteta has played a part, too, the 24-year-old’s footballing acumen having been transformed under the Spaniard.
‘I think it is just the way he speaks,’ he says. ‘The way he sees football. He is so smart, he sees so many details you don’t even think about. The way he explains it to you, it makes sense.
‘What he has helped me improve a lot is my position — where to threaten, what areas to threaten and how I can be more dangerous arriving in the box at the right times. Body position before you receive the ball. Small things like that can help you massively.’
Last season saw Odegaard strike 15 goals, along with 8 assists in the league — his record high. Yet, he believes he missed out on scoring even more goals and is looking to exceed that number this season.
He adds: ‘Of course I want to improve and I want to be better than last year, but I don’t have a certain number I want to reach.
‘I just want to focus on doing the right things and then I think the results will be good. Even last year, I missed a lot of big chances and I could have scored a lot more goals!
‘I think there is still a lot of room to improve there as well. If it’s me scoring the goal or giving the assist, it’s not the main thing.
‘I knew I had it in me. I have always scored a lot of goals since I was young. Hopefully I can keep it up.’