Mikel Arteta has explained why’s he’s been surprised by new signing Martin Odegaard, the playmaker already having shown himself to be a leader at the Emirates.
The 22-year-old joined Arsenal in January on a loan deal until the end of the season, after enduring a frustrating first half of the campaign with parent club Real Madrid in which his game time was limited.
The Norwegian international became headline news back in 2015, when the La Liga side plucked the then 16-year-old from Stromsgodset, after having initially having been courted by some of the top clubs in Europe.
Since then, however, he’s struggled to really make his mark at the Bernabeu and has spent the past few seasons out on loan, enjoying spells at Heerenveen, Vitesse and most recently Real Sociedad.
Now with the Gunners, the creative midfielder will be hoping to do all he can to impress in the next few months, with the early evidence that he could be a real key player for Mikel Arteta’s side between now and the end of the season.
While it’s still early days, the Gunners boss has already admitted that he’s been ‘impressed’ by what he’s seen of the player, particularly his ‘leadership’ both on and off the pitch.
‘All positive from my first conversations with him. He’s a really focused and humble boy that was really keen to join, but he just wants to play football in the right way and then he said some really good things,’ Arteta told his pre-match press conference.
‘He’s a really nice guy, the players like him, the staff like him, he’s easy going, a really hard worker, and I’ve been very impressed with his leadership. He looks a little bit calm but on the pitch he’s got something about him. I’ve been really impressed with him.
‘It’s how he talks to his teammates and how he, for example, commands the high press. Then the personality that he brings and shows every time the opponent comes towards him he still wants the ball in the right areas.
‘His decision making is really good and he’s a really intelligent player.’
Odegaard made his first league start for the Gunners during their 4-2 win over Leeds last weekend and will be hoping to be involved when Arsenal resume their Europa League campaign against Benfica this evening.