Jurgen Klopp says he’s happy seeing Martin Odegaard deliver on his potential at Arsenal having followed the Norwegian’s career since he came through the ranks at boyhood club Stromsgodset.
The German says he made a big effort to recruit the midfielder for Borussia Dortmund seven years ago only to be thwarted by Real Madrid who beat off competition from a host of Europe’s top clubs, including the Gunners.
In Klopp’s eyes, it was disappointing to see the player struggle at the Bernabeu but he recognises that it’s helped Odegaard, who now captains Arsenal and his country, get to where he is today.
It was a bit more difficult at the start of his career when he was at Real Madrid. Then it looked like it might not go his way. I was really disappointed by that, because we wanted him in Dortmund when he was very young.
“We had a long conversation when he was still a boy, together with his father. In the end he decided on Madrid, and that’s fine, but that’s why I’ve always followed him.
“[His development] is very, very impressive. You can only imagine how many talents, huge talents, ‘crazy’ talents, I have seen over the course of quite a while in this industry. At the time, Martin was 15 years old and already playing in Norway. The whole world went berserk.
“Until he was 15, he probably experienced no hardship. After that, a lot of things went against him. It makes him the person he is now, the man he is now, and the player he is now.
“I’m really happy that he has now become the player we all expected him to become. In fact, even better than that, if you will. He plays a massive role in an incredibly strong Arsenal team.”
“He’s still young, clear in his head, very influential. I honestly can’t say anything negative about him. Really a top player.”
Odegaard and Klopp will come face to face on Sunday when Liverpool visit the Emirates in the next leg of Arsenal’s title procession.