Mikel Arteta explains how the attention Martin Odegaard received at 16 made him stronger


Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard was just 15 when he made his senior international debut for Norway, and 16 when he joined Real Madrid from Stromsgodset for a seven-figure fee.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes the attention given to Martin Odegaard as a teenager made the midfielder better prepared for this stage of his career.

Odegaard, who made a permanent move to Arsenal in August after impressing on loan last season, moved to Real Madrid when he was just 16. Back then, he was already a full international, having broken a record 104 years to become Norway’s youngest. never a player.

Things didn’t always go well for the starlet in Spain, and he was loaned out several times before eventually leaving the Bernabeu on a permanent deal worth £30m. However, as the 23-year-old continues to prove doubters wrong, Arteta has highlighted the positive impact of this early career pressure.

“Before the reviews, that was the price,” Arteta told TV2 (via sports witness ). “And the price was so high, so early, without doing anything special.

“They made the roster for him at a level he couldn’t even see, because he didn’t get a chance to play. It was impossible for him to close that gap.

“He had to accept a lot of things: not playing, being out of the team, being criticized. But that’s part of a player’s development.

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Odegaard captained Arsenal for their Premier League match at Southampton


AFP via Getty Images)

“It makes your skin thicker,” continued the manager, who gave Odegaard the captain’s armband for Arsenal’s weekend defeat at Southampton. “If you get through those times, you’re much better prepared for the good times, like he is now.

“I see where he is now. How far he can go is up to him. However, it has to be Martin Ødegaard because when he was 16, we talked to him as if he were someone else, who had already made a career. It was his problem.”

Odegaard only played 11 times for Real Madrid’s first team following his €3m (£2.5m) transfer from Stromsgodset in 2015. He had loan spells with Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad before spending the second half of the 2020-21 season with Arsenal, and made a permanent switch to north London over the summer.

Odegaard has already played more games for Arsenal than for Real Madrid



Odegaard had already captained the Norwegian national team on several occasions before wearing his club’s armband. International boss Stale Solbakken officially named him captain in 2021, and he led the side as they narrowly missed out on a place in the World Cup qualifying play-offs.

“Talking to his national team coach and how much they talk about him. He walks down the hall and everyone loves him,” Arteta said in March.

“He’s such a nice, humble guy and he leads the way he is. It’s very natural for him and it will come.”

Alexandre Lacazette has been captain of Arsenal in an unofficial capacity since the departure of former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, if Lacazette leaves when his contract expires at the end of the season, Odegaard could be next in line.

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