For years and years, Arsenal toiled and foundered, failing to match the ambitions of a proud and prestigious fanbase with the performances on the pitch, but all that changed upon Mikel Arteta‘s appointment in December 2019.
The Spaniard replaced his countryman, Unai Emery, who had failed to prove his worth as the man to succeed the legendary Arsene Wenger, who retired in 2018, and started on the front foot with a record-extending triumph in the FA Cup, defeating Chelsea in the final courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double.
It would take Arteta three-and-a-half years to provide Arsenal with a return to the Champions League, having last played in the prestigious continental competition in the 2016/17 season, but his burgeoning outfit roared into life last year and led Manchester City in an enthralling title race before falling by the wayside at the business end.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli on the wings, William Saliba’s prodigious defensive talents at the back; Arsenal boast one of the most exciting teams in Europe and will hope to glean silverware this season, perhaps even toppling the indomitable force that is Pep Guardiola’s City.
The life force of this Gunners team, the fulcrum of all that flows through the Emirates Stadium, is captain Martin Odegaard, boy wonder turned first-class phenom, who now comfortably stands as one of the most influential, ingenious attacking midfielders in the game.
When did Arsenal sign Martin Odegaard?
In January 2021, Arsenal swooped for Real Madrid’s Norwegian midfielder and secured his services on a six-month loan deal, with Los Blancos granting a move for a player requiring regular action on the pitch.
Odegaard had been a notable name from his formative years, signing for Real as a 16-year-old after catching the eye with his precocious performances in his homeland, joining for a reported €3m (£2.3m).
Praised as “talented” by Arteta during that loan stint, the Norway captain impressed, scoring a goal and providing two assists in the Premier League, completing 91% of his passes, averaging 1.4 key passes per game and succeeding with 76% of his dribble attempts.
His showings prompted the London giants to complete a £30m transfer for his permanent signature at the end of the term, and while there were concerns over a player who had failed to reach his potential and cement a spot at the Santiago Bernabeu, he has now blossomed into a world-class talent.
How much is Martin Odegaard worth now?
Arteta proclaimed that his maestro would become “one of the best” midfielders in the world before he had even finished his loan spell, something that has been proved right and then some with Odegaard now the centrepiece of Arsenal’s rise to the upper echelon of teams across Europe.
While the £30m fee appeared to be something of a gamble for a player of immense talent but uncertainty that he would actually live up to the potential he had been tagged with since a youth, it’s clear that if Arsenal were to cash in now, they would eclipse that initial sum paid.
Indeed, according to CIES Football Observatory‘s valuation model, Odegaard is currently valued at €100m (£86m), a 187% increase on the initial fee, with Football Transfers also listing only Neymar Jr. and Pedri as more valuable playmakers.
Of course, it’s hardly likely such a price tag would dissuade the Emirates hierarchy from pulling all the stops to tie the ace down to a long-term future at the club.
And indeed, with Arsenal reportedly engaged in contract negotiations with their Scandinavian star for a new contract, and a deal expected to be close, there’s little doubt that this captain will stay with the ship.
Why is Martin Odegaard worth that much?
Last season, Arsenal returned to the forefront of the English game, with the components dovetailing to great effect and the squad unearthing that winning formula that provides an almost magical advantage to the very greatest sides, capable of finding a way to win in the most forgone conclusions.
Heralded as a “wizard” by footballer Babayele Sodade for his part in Arsenal’s feats, Odegaard is press-resistant and unflappable, creative and composed; his expansive array of tools can unlock any defence, and he resides alongside Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne as the Premier League’s foremost midfield sensation.
The £115k-per-week machine was incredible last year, scoring 15 goals and supplying eight assists in the league as Arsenal recorded their highest points total since winning the Premier League in 2004, with Wenger’s historic ‘invincibles‘ the only Premier League side to complete a season undefeated to this day.
This season, having clinched the Community Shield against Manchester City in the campaign’s curtain-raiser, Odegaard has proved paramount to his side’s success yet again, scoring twice from the opening four league matches, praised for his “amazing” qualities by compatriot and prolific City talisman Erling Haaland.
The 53-cap international also ranks among the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 2% for shot-creating actions, the top 11% for assists, the top 11% for progressive passes and the top 12% for progressive carries per 90, as per FBref.
With De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Luka Modric among the comparable players to the one-time Real Sociedad loanee, it’s clear that not only does he boast creativity of the highest standard, but an all-encompassing, multi-functional midfield game to provide Arteta with the perfect central cog to whir his machine into life.
The aforementioned characteristics are exactly what is needed for an ambitious outfit such as Arsenal pushing to reclaim their spot as one of Europe’s most fearsome and frightening sides in the business.
Odegaard is now among the standout stars of his ilk, and while the Gunners could cash in for a lucrative sale, the thought of allowing this dynamic, prodigious talent to ply his trade elsewhere is simply unthinkable, and Arteta will forever wax over the day that he was brought to the club, catalysing a return to the very top.