Arsenal agree deal to sign Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid; Norway midfielder was keen to leave Bernabeu in search of first-team football; Real Sociedad, Leicester and other European clubs were keen on 22-year-old
Wednesday 27 January 2021 11:53, UK
Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season.
Odegaard will undergo a medical in the next 24 hours before completing his temporary move to north London.
The 22-year-old made it clear he wanted to leave this month in order to play regular first-team football, having played just nine times in all competitions for Real Madrid this season.
Real Sociedad were keen on re-signing Odegaard after his season-long loan stint last year, but it is thought Real Madrid's preference was to send him to a club outside La Liga.
Odegaard registered seven goals and nine assists across 36 appearances on loan at the La Liga side last season, leading Real Madrid to cut short his two-year loan and make him part of their first-team squad.
A number of Premier League clubs were also interested in the Norwegian, including Leicester, although the Foxes opted not to pursue the Norwegian international after preliminary discussions.
The agreement was reached on the same day Mesut Ozil's departure from the club was confirmed, as the 32-year-old terminated his deal at the Emirates Stadium to join Fenerbahce on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
Odegaard is set to become Arsenal's second signing of the January window, after the club secured the services of Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan on a six-month loan deal.
Mikel Arteta's side also saw Sokratis Papastathopoulos leave the club after mutually agreeing to cancel his contract, while Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have respectively joined Schalke 04 and Nice on loan deals until the end of the season.
Sokratis is expected to return to Greece and sign with Olympiakos, according to Sky in Italy.
Genoa and Lazio were linked with a move for the defender but a deal to take him to Serie A looks unlikely.
Sky Sports' Peter Smith:
What will Odegaard bring to the Premier League? Well, hype, hope and a lot of media attention for starters.
The attention of the footballing world was centred on him in 2015 when, a month after his 16th birthday, Real Madrid won the race for his signature - and the interest in the now 22-year-old is set to ignite again.
Already a Norway international when he joined Real, Odegaard - who had drawn excitable comparisons with Lionel Messi - immediately began training with the first team and became the club's youngest-ever player in the final game of that season.
Back then, the anticipation of what Odegaard would become at the Bernabeu knew no bounds - but his progress, perhaps disappointingly for some, has been quieter since, as the gradual progression of a midfield technician has taken shape.
Patience is paying off now, though. After an underwhelming 18-month loan spell at Heerenveen, Odegaard had a standout season at Vitesse in 2018/19, creating more chances than any other player in the Dutch top flight, and finishing third in the assists chart to Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech.
He backed it up with an impressive season at Real Sociedad last year, when he hit double figures for goal contributions, and was recalled to Real Madrid as a result.
While a way into Zinedine Zidane's line-up has ultimately been hard to find, Arsenal have landed a classy creator, a pass-master and an attacking midfielder with a fine touch and bright awareness of the game.
Odegaard will bring excitement on the pitch as well as off it.
European football expert Fabrizio Romano:
"It's almost done. He's having his medical and the paperwork is being signed. I think it's all done between Real Madrid and Arsenal.
"The player was very close to re-joining Real Sociedad on loan but Mikel Arteta then called the player, his family and agent to convince them that he would have game time and that he'd be playing in the Premier League with Arsenal.
"So Odegaard changed his mind about three or four days ago. It will be completed in the coming hours and it will be a simple loan for six months. I'm told that at the end of the season, Arsenal and Real Madrid will speak again about the situation along with Dani Ceballos.
"They will decide then but Arsenal have a very interesting talent as he was tempted by a move to Ajax. But after Arteta's call, he's decided to move to England."
The winter transfer window is open until Monday, February 1 at 11pm.
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