Thursday, June 20, 2024

Odegaard: Arsenal just felt right

Morning all, a quick Friday blog for you as I’m heading for London a bit later on.

Let’s start with this excellent piece in The Player’s Tribune from Martin Odegaard. I have to say, I generally enjoy the way they put these articles together – I’ve read some before from players I would usually have little interest in, and they’re nearly always good. The style, where an interview is presented as if the player wrote the words themselves, really works, and it’s not easy to do.

Anyway, the Arsenal skipper is the featured man this time around, and he talks about his connection with the club which began via a video game. From there we hear about his decision to join Real Madrid, and ultimately how he ended up in North London.

It’s probably worth remembering where we were in January 2021, when we sought to sign him on loan. We’d had that terrible period in November/December, then there was the introduction of Emile Smith Rowe and that big win over Chelsea which sparked a run of 16 points from 18 before we drew with Man Utd.

That was the game where the Norwegian made his debut, but first contact was made when we were much lower in the table. Tensions and doubts, it’s fair to say, were still quite high at that point.

You could probably have forgiven a player for thinking ‘Mmm, I’m not sure about this’, but he explains what happened:

I spoke to Mikel Arteta on a Zoom call and he told me all about the project. At the time, Arsenal were not doing well. They were way down like 15th in the table, but that meeting … honestly, I challenge anyone to come away from a meeting with Arteta and not believe everything he tells you.

He is next level. It’s hard to explain. He’s passionate, he’s intense and sometimes, yeah, he’s a bit crazy … but when he speaks, you understand that whatever he says will happen, will happen.

He told me his plan, everything he was building towards. He knew exactly what needed to change at the club. He told me all about these amazing young players in the squad — Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, etc., etc. He told me how he wanted me to fit in and how I was going to improve.

I got this strong feeling that he was onto something really special.

Fast forward to now and things slot into place perfectly. Odegaard’s career, which wasn’t quite as far in the doldrums as many made out at the time, has blossomed. He’s now the captain of the Arsenal, and right from the start it felt like he was a great fit for this club. The loan spell was decent, albeit hampered by injury, then came the summer and as always we had the inevitable division in camps as we reportedly pursued both him and James Maddison.

With all due respect to the England man who is a very good player, I don’t think there was any question in Mikel Arteta’s mind which one he wanted. It just made much more sense to try and make Odegaard permanent than pay what Leicester wanted. When you look at transfer fees now, where players with limited experience can cost you €100m (think about that!), the €35m we paid Real Madrid is an absolute bargain. It could go down as one of our best bits of business ever.

Anyway, read the piece – there’s an accompanying video too if that’s your preference, and be happy we have a great player who has played a major part in leading us to the top of the table at this point.

The manager will meet the press a bit later this afternoon. As always we’ll have the team news and all the other stories over on Arseblog News.

For now, I’ll leave you with a brand new Arsecast, chatting to Philippe Auclair about the big story of the week – Man City and the Premier League. We chat about the ins and outs of it all, the seriousness with which the PL are pursuing this, and lots more – and there’s a bit of Arsenal chat afterwards with Andrew Allen.

We’ll also be releasing our Patreon preview podcast later today as we look ahead to Brentford tomorrow, I’m recording that a bit later when I get to London, and it should drop around late afternoon.

For now, have a good one!


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