Mikel Arteta says he’s been impressed by Martin Odegaard’s leadership skills and the way the ‘humble’ Norwegian has settled so quickly at Arsenal.
Signed on loan from Real Madrid in January, the 22-year-old impressed on his first start for the Gunners against Leeds United at the weekend with the boss particularly taken by the manner in which he urged his teammates to implement the high press.
Facing the media ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Benfica in Rome, the boss was asked what impression the player had made so far.
“All positives,” replied Arteta, “from my first conversation that I had with him, he’s a really focused and a humble boy.
“He was really keen to join, he just wants to play football in the right way. He’s settled really quickly. Really nice guy, the players like him, the staff like him, he’s really easy going, a hard worker.
“I’ve been very impressed with his leadership. He looks a little bit calm and reserved but on the pitch, he’s got something about him. I’ve been really impressed with him.
He added: “When I talk about leadership, it’s how he talks to his teammates, how he commands, for example, the high press.
“And then there’s the personality he shows every time an opponent is close to him, he still wants the ball in the right areas, his decision making is really good. He’s a really intelligent player.
Asked if he Odegaard has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, Arteta said: “It’s not the potential, he’s done it. I followed him very closely at Real Sociedad where he had a lot of opportunities and was really impressive over there for long periods.
“He had a really successful season over there and that’s one of the reasons why I was so convinced that he was a player for us, a player I really liked and has potential to be even better.”