Arsenal’s confirmation of Martin Odegaard’s new contract with the club is the most important piece of transfer business the Gunners have completed this summer.
The arrival of Declan Rice for a club-record transfer fee of €117 million might have caught more headlines in the summer, but nailing down their captain for another five years was even more vital to Mikel Arteta’s project at the club.
FootballTransfers exclusively broke the news that the Gunners were in talks with Odegaard over a new deal in March, and now that has been finalised and made official.
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Odegaard, who has received a sharp pay increase from the €138,000 (£120,000) per week deal he was previously on, may not be a local lad, but he has quickly grown to become the epicentre of an Arsenal team that is now bold enough not just to hope to challenge for the Premier League, but to expect it.
“I’ve always had this weird connection to Arsenal,” he told The Players’ Tribune.
“It started long before I signed. I don’t even really know how to explain it, except with one little story.
“I’ve never been that much into video games. I am of that generation that always played outside, but the one exception was FIFA.
“I mostly played Career Mode. You know, where you get to be the manager? The club I always chose to manage was Arsenal. They were my FIFA team.”
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Now Odegaard is playing for ‘his team’ – and he is doing so with the promise that was predicted of him when he first exploded into the widespread footballing consciousness as a 15-year-old playing for Stromsgodset in Norway.
Arsenal have on their hands a player who is firmly on track to becoming the best in the world in his position.
“They don’t have to be looking for a ceiling,” Arteta said when asked about how good Odegaard can become. “I think they have to try to be better every day and be humble enough to admit there’s room for improvement.”
How good can Odegaard become?
Data analytics experts SciSports place him fourth in the world among attacking midfielders, with only Manchester City duo Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him in the Premier League. Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt is also marginally ahead of him in this regard.
At just 24, Odegaard has the potential to surpass Brandt and De Bruyne, according to SciSports, while Silva is at his absolute peak is already on a slow decline while the Norway international remains on the rise.
World leading attacking midfielders (SciSports)
|Bernardo Silva||29||Man City||138.8||138.8|
|Kevin De Bruyne||32||Man City||128.5||130.3|
In short, he is on the path to becoming the game’s premiere attacking midfielder, although he faces an undoubted challenge from Bayern wonderkid Jamal Musiala.
Nevertheless, Arsenal and Arteta must be delighted he will take that step while at the Emirates.