Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsdale have both backed Martin Odegaard to become Arsenal’s permanent captain should Alexandre Lacazette leave the club at the end of the month.
The 23-year-old midfielder only joined the club on a permanent basis last summer but grew in stature on the pitch and in the dressing room over the course of the season to the point he was wearing the armband regularly when other players weren’t selected.
While Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin and Xhaka have all been namechecked as group leaders during Mikel Arteta’s time in charge, the Norwegian, who captains his country, appears to be the favourite for a role that in recent years has been something of a poisoned chalice.
“He [Odegaard] is the future of this club,” Xhaka told Norwegian channel TV2 last month.
“He’s already captain when Alexandre Lacazette does not play. He can be very proud of himself. You can see how far he has come in his head, mentally.
“He is very young, only 23, but in how he behaves and is on the field, he looks like he’s 30…he can definitely become Arsenal captain. He has the DNA in him.
“He works as hard every day as if he were in a fight. Everyone in the dressing room listens to him. Why not?”
For Ramsdale, who joked about Odegaard’s cosy relationship with Arteta in a recent interview with Peter Crouch, it’s the Norwegian’s calmness and experience that makes him perfect for the role.
“If you give the armband it can go one of two ways, you either feel the pressure of the team and football club or it gives you a lift that it gives you an opportunity and lead from the front,” Ramsdale said in an appearance on David Seaman’s podcast.
“As much as in interviews I’ve joked about Martin, he was at Real Madrid at 16-17, he’s seen all the best players in the world, he’s the captain of his country and for a 23-year-old, he has literally done everything you can in a short amount of time.
“He’s a very calming individual, he might not be the most vocal but you don’t always need your captain to be the most vocal because you could have three or four other leaders who are vocal. You could have two or three leaders who are vocal who perform – for him, he’s relished at the chance of wearing the armband. I have no problems with him being our captain.”
He added: “He has that [respect] not just because of where he’s been and what he’s done, he’s a top-class football player and I feel very lucky to have him in my team.
“If you’re the captain of your country at whatever age, you’re doing something right with the team and on the pitch.”