Martin Odegaard has officially joined Arsenal on loan till the end of the season and will be expected to inject a range of creative qualities into Arteta’s midfield, plus ease the burden on Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.
Whilst the Hale End graduates have formed an exciting partnership, it would be reckless to expect both to carry on churning out 90s twice-a-week, without risking injury or suffering a dip in form. Adding another quality player will only help freshen up the supply-line whilst pushing Willian further away from the first-team.
At 16, Odegaard had the world at his feet – the Norwegian prodigy had the pick of any club in Europe but couldn’t resist the allure of Real Madrid. Over the following 6 years, he has made just 11 appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos, having been farmed out on loan to the Eredivisie, where he played for both Heerenveen and Vitesse, and last season to Real Sociedad.
Note: You can click on the images for the ultra HQ option (in a new window)
Described by some sections of the Spanish media as a failed Galactico, Odegaard went to Holland tasked with replacing Mason Mount at Vitesse and quickly evolved into one of the division’s finest players, becoming an integral part of Leonid Slutsky’s side – putting up some of the best chance creation numbers in the league.
Last season, back in La Liga, the young midfielder saw his football elevate to new levels at Real Sociedad (36 appearances in all competitions) – where he continued to produce elite attacking output. He ranked 2nd in through balls per game, 3rd in passes into the area and 6th in shot assists per game. He also scored 4 goals, put on 6 assists and was named best Norwegian footballer of 2019.
The young playmaker began his career primarily as a right-midfielder where he spent 72% of his time while playing in Holland. However, the heat-maps below show a player who roamed into central areas of the pitch creating space for his teammates. As he developed, his role evolved, and the Norwegian transitioned into more of a traditional number 10.
Real Sociedad manager Imanol Alguacil played the loanee extensively through the middle, utilising his exceptional spatial awareness and watched on as he shone brightly in the right half-space – accruing 16% (shown below) of his touches on the ball. If juego de posicion is still Arteta’s aim, it makes sense to secure a playmaker highly proficient in tight spaces who boasts extraordinary technique and vision as primary strengths.
Odegaard operates at his optimum when given free range across the final third, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in the more dogmatic approach employed by Arteta. The loanee has the ability to attack from both the central and wide channels, as well as dropping deep to help progress the ball and aid the build-up.
In the last five league outings, Arsenal’s shots have increased from 10 to 16 per game, largely due to the introduction of Emile Smith Rowe, but still struggle to unlock low defensive blocks. The arrival of Odegaard should improve the situation further – he’s averaged 2.91 passes into the penalty area per game over the last 3 seasons while Willian (1.76) leads Arsenal with the majority of those passes being generated from spamming crosses.
The image below depicts where and how the Norwegian successfully penetrates the opposition area using a passflow plot. The arrow length is representative of the average pass distance and the brighter colour squares equal a greater frequency of passes. It’s encouraging to see the ‘elbow’ of the area as a hotspot, as well as an expansive range of passes from a player who looks to make something happen from almost everywhere in the opposition half.
A fantastic dribbler (4th in La Liga progressive carries per game and carries into the final third) with a low centre of gravity who excels in receiving and distributing the ball quickly and accurately – Odegaard completed 81% of all attempted passes during 19/20 and made 7.22 progressive passes per game (8th in La Liga) bettering anyone at Arsenal last season.
Finally, having reached the end without mentioning Mesut Ozil, it would be remiss to ignore the stylistic similarities he shares with the incoming Martin Odegaard. Although not a complete playmaker like Ozil, the Norwegian is quicker and a more polished dribbler, even if his passing is not nearly as developed.
Looking at their per 90 metrics across 4 key categories using a beeswarm plot (the beeswarm plot is a one-dimensional scatter plot with no-overlapping points and is used to visualise distributions), right is better. Based on the results I think it’s fair to assume that Martin Odegaard belongs in the delivery service, much like his predecessor.
This is a player of genuine talent and still a lot of untapped potential. Hopefully if the loan move is a success, Arsenal will at least have some form of plan to try and make it permanent.
Welcome to the Arsenal, Martin Odegaard.
Follow me on Twitter @jonollington
Looks good, so long as he can be playing mostly central, we have too many on the right – Saka, Pepe and Willian.
Does anybody know if he is eligible to play in Europa?
Pretty important if not
No player can be cup tied any more so even if he played in Europe for Madrid there’s no issue there. Only problem might be that you can only register 3 new players for the Europa knockouts compared to your squad from group stages. I don’t see how we’ll have more than 3 new players to register though.
We’re at 3 right now: mat Ryan, MØ, and Martinelli
If this works out I really hope we can buy him in the summer. Does anyone know if he has a release clause at Real Madrid? Would be good if we can do a similar thing to the Partey deal.
no release clause or otb m8
Thx m8. Rly gd 2 no.
appartently is just the €350M ( https://www.squawka.com/en/every-real-madrid-player-release-clause/ )
Ceballos is 500m? Well…erm…
1€ billion release clause for Benzema?! Isn’t he 53 years old? Real Madrid disgust me.
I believe release clauses are required by law in Spain. Not quite sure what good they do if you are allowed to set it at ridiculously high numbers that effectively negate the purpose of the clause.
Allegedly he has a release clause of €60m.
Sorry, I see elsewhere that when he signed his new contract last year that the new clause is over €300m, but who knows.
Doesn’t his contract run out in 2022?
Sounds like he signed a 5-year deal last year.
£300M+ according to this https://www.squawka.com/en/every-real-madrid-player-release-clause/
All players in Spain must have releases clauses by law, but it seems RM are wise enough now that they just make sure they’re stupid high and so irrelevant for their players
I don’t know why Atletico had a normal release clause for Partey. For a player like Willock, the release clause nowadays is around 150 millions,
May have been part of the demands of the player and agent.
Man like Jon!
If he can repeat or better his Sociedad production, he will keep ESR out of the team. I would have no problem with that. ESR is still young and his performances have been encouraging, but his numbers are not this good, are they.
He has 5 assists and 2 goals in 11 appearances. What more do you want from him?
11 assists and 11 goals from 11 appearances of course!
Why not 20 assists and 20 goals from 11 appearances if we insist on being unreasonable?
sounds like weakness, I want 11goals and 11 assists from 11 minutes!
I’d like him to notice me when he walks into the room. Maybe buy me a nice dress and take me out for a fancy meal once in a while.
Your posts are always better when there’s no football judgment involved. I think that must sound like a putdown, but I didn’t mean it that way.
You’re being very negative with that comment
I don’t know why blogs is so against mentioning Ozil. He is a younger version Ozil maybe not as pure in play-making but very similar in terms of the positions they take up.
His passing is also Ozil like, and dribbling similar as well. We have talented boy on our hands , and if he can come in and have the same impact his predecessor had. All the more for it
a) I didn’t write this piece.
b) What has a statistical look at Martin Odegaard got to do with Mesut Ozil?
No. Everything must be about Ozil. He is the centre. The Sun King.
I just watched a documentary about the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. This too was about Ozil. He is a metaphor for life. For the human condition. He is Rome, Athens, Constantinople, Trier all rolled into one.
Everything is Ozil.
Ozil is everything.
The Alpha. The Omega.
“He is a younger version Ozil maybe not as pure in play-making but very similar in terms of the positions they take up … His passing is also Ozil like, and dribbling similar as well”
This is literally mentioned in the article. Did you even read the whole thing?
I doubt he did read the whole as it wasn’t about Ozil.
Very excited to see him play. I don’t understand how to interpret the Ozil vs Odegaard graphic.
What’s he like off the ball, ESR has been very good and disrupting and pressing, is he more like that or more of a luxury ozil type?
I get the graphic now haha
He is not a luxury player, he works really hard for the team.
may just be new signing euphoria but I feel like hes gonna have a huge impact
He has\had a problem with jumpers knee, but that should be ok now, in form and at his best he truly is world class.
Really insightful graphs. Thanks for this excellent work!
If ESR is injured, lets throw Odegaard into the fire right away vs ManU. Otherwise, they’ll try to pigeon hole Willian in the #10 role again. That’s suicide vs ManU
I do feel sorry for Willian being asked to play a role he has no history or aptitude playing. When he came on against Southampton he ran around a lot more than usual. I think he was trying to show ‘passion’. It’s just it’s not the right role for him. I’m not defending him exactly, it’s clearly been an awful awful move by Arsenal. Even though when he was signed, I kinda thought “great, he’s been absolute quality for Chelsea and Pepe needs competition”. I never expected his form to fall off a cliff or to see him converted to… Read more »
I would feel more sorry if Willian wasn’t playing dogshit in his normal position on the right where he’s playing at the top level for many years. There are just no good excuses to his performance.
Yeah, fair play.
Does this portend the 4-3-3 formation that Arteta favors. with ESR, Partey, and Odegaard? I think ESR and (from what I have read about) Odegaard have the work rate to make this work.
I don’t think ESR will be playing more than 2/3 of the minutes left this season at the most. Odegaard will rotate with him, and with Saka. I doubt we’ll see a system used regularly that is set up to have all three of them playing at the same time.
That’s my question as well; I’m sure his #1 role is to keep ESR & Saka from playing 180 minutes every week, but [if Odegaard lives up to the fanfare] would be a shame to see any of them only playing 20 minutes at a time.
Can ESR or Odin play more of a defensive role alongside Partey? More advanced than him, but still something of what has been the Ceballos role? They both seem like they’d still be able to able creatively from a little further back, but Arteta hasn’t ever sacrificed stability at the back for offensive punch.
What excites me about this loan, unlike other recent loans (even Ceballos), is that there is the clear potential for this player to be ‘elite’, exactly the right age profile IMO. I suspect that Edu and Mikel have a plan to turn this into a permanent transfer IF Odegaard shows in training and matches that he can adapt and deliver in English football. Our board demonstrated their backing for our manager in the summer with Partey and sanctioning another significant transfer (with the reduction in our wage bill) is completely feasible. I like this deal a lot and am really… Read more »
While it’s nice to dream of it being permanent (if it works out) I really don’t feel that’s what matters at the moment. We’ve seen how clearly we need a good no.10 and it’s amazing and pro-active they’ve moved to make sure we can have a back-up/alternative to ESR.
I think that after his last season in La Liga what Arteta is getting is a really quality player at a reasonable price to see us through to the summer. It’s a win for Real and the player, and it’s a win for us, permanent or not.
The problem with buying him in the summer, is if he looks positive this season, his price goes up. And we also have to likely replace on either or both of Elneny and Ceballos. Not to mention a Lback And Ryan. Plus we have not generated much income. I would expect in summer Laca will be sold and potentially (depending on Barca’s funds and priorities) Bellerin. which may also mean then Rback has to be sought regardless of Cedric who is not young and has injury issues. So it is a temporary fix at present kicking can down the line… Read more »
Why do you think Bellerin is for sale?
Great article. Only comment I think he only looks similar to Ozil when it comes to operating areas and dominant left foot otherwise his playing style is more similar to Santi Cazorla.
For people who are as slow as me, perhaps point out that, in the last figure, each dot is a different player and the O’s represent Oil and Odegaard — then it becomes really impressive
Thanks for the analysis really insightful