Thursday, April 25, 2024

A new deal for Odegaard makes all the sense

Morning all, happy Friday.

Mikel Arteta will meet the press a bit later on today, to talk about our game against Everton and whatever else crops up. I’m sure he’ll be asked about injuries, but won’t give anything away. He’s not one to provide any information that might be of any use to the opposition manager, although I don’t know if Sean Dyche necessarily tailors his game-plan to specific players as much as the team he’s facing. Expect a low block at Goodison.

Perhaps he might say something – if asked – about Martin Odegaard and a new contract, something we expect to happen quite soon. Having already tied down Bukayo Saka, Gabriels Magalhaes and Martinelli, and William Saliba, the captain is the next obvious recipient of new terms. Not just to reward his improvement, but to secure his future.

We spoke about him a bit on the new Arsecast, and he has been a very impressive figure since he joined the club – and I even include the loan spell. He was hampered by injury a bit, and playing in a team which was, it’s fair to say, very much a work in progress. However, he showed more than enough for me to want us to go out and make the deal permanent if we could.

Think back to that summer and there was a split between people who wanted Odegaard and those who wanted James Maddison. The latter is obviously a decent player, but it feels to me like he’s now at exactly the right club for his van der Vaart-level stylings. Odegaard has come into Arsenal, developed his game in all kinds of ways, raised the floor of his performance levels significantly, and taken on the mantle of captain to very good effect.

People talk a lot about how Mikel Arteta has cultivated a better connection between the team and the fans, and that is absolutely true, but Odegaard does it too. He takes time to acknowledge the fans after almost every game (obviously you don’t always get to see when watching from afar), and I enjoy the confidence with which he carries himself as captain. He doesn’t have to be the one giving the ‘Let’s foggin go guys!’ talk when the team are in the pre-game huddle, he’s happy for others to play their part as leaders.

Beyond all that, he’s just an incredibly enjoyable footballer to watch. The combination of obvious football intelligence, top level technicality, creativity, and a work rate that is basically second to none in this Arsenal team (or anywhere else), is just *chef’s kiss*. It’s no wonder Arteta loves him. As I said, I think the deal is sorted, it’s just a question of announcing it at some point, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Next: Ben White, please.

The other main news this morning is that Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham will leave the club at the end of the season. I don’t know that there’s much more to say about that right now, the season has just begun, but he has been part of a relatively young management group at the club and played a key role in how things have turned out around in recent times.

It will be very interesting to see who comes next, but that’s a story for another day.

It was transfer deadline day for the WSL yesterday, and Arsenal made a surprise late signing, bringing in Australian international Kyre Cooney-Cross from Hammarby. She says:

Arsenal just felt right as soon as I heard about the interest. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere at Emirates Stadium in front of a big crowd for our first game there this season. I can’t wait to get started and help us achieve something big together.

After the disappointment of the Champions League exit, there is more pressure to compete all the way in the league, so a deeper squad will certainly help. Especially as some of the injured players from last year make their way back into contention.

We’ll have more on the Everton game, and from Mikel Arteta’s press conference, in our preview podcast over on Patreon later on this afternoon. For now, I’ll leave you with the new Arsecast, published last night in which we discuss Odegaard (as mentioned), Saka, the imminent return of the Champions League, and lots more.

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