A Look at What Martin Odegaard will Bring to Arsenal
By James Whiffing
Over the past few days, Arsenal have been linked with a loan move for Martin Ødegaard, who has been struggling for game time under Zinedine Zidane this season with just 7 appearances (with only 3 of them being starts) for Los Blancos.
However, the Norwegian has shown his quality throughout loan spells with Vitesse and Real Sociedad and has proved that he has the potential to fill Arsenal’s creative void – even if he is only with us for 6 months. Ødegaard has the potential to be a very important player for Mikel Arteta as the Gunners try to climb the table and earn a top six finish.
Firstly, let’s have a look at Martin Ødegaard’s strengths.
In 2018, Ødegaard completed a loan move to Eredivisie side Vitesse and turned out to be excellent for them, scoring 8 goals and providing 10 assists in the league. Aside from goal contributions, Ødegaard also created a staggering 120 chances in the league for Vitesse, which averages out to an impressive 4 chances created per 90.
In terms of his on the ball ability, he averaged a dribble success rate of 64% with Vitesse. FOr a player who specialises in dribbling past opponents, this isn’t too bad since it shows how often he attempts dribbles and how dynamic and energetic he is, particularly in the final third.
The 22-year-old also averaged a decent pass success rate of 80%. For an attacking midfielder, this is actually relatively high since players in that position are always looking to thread through a killer pass and are willing to take risks with their passes.
Another thing which stood out whilst looking at Ødegaard’s stats was the number of goals he scores outside the box. For Vitesse, 6 of his 8 goals were scored outside of the box, which shows that he has that ‘magic moment’ in him which could win games. The playmaker also scored two free kicks and a penalty for the Eredivisie outfit, which proves that he is a set piece specialist and is capable of operating from dead balls.
The Real Madrid man has also proved to be a key team player; he frequently tracks back and helps his team to defend. The Norwegian had a tackle success rate of 58% for Vitesse, whilst also making 36 interceptions, 26 blocks and 8 clearances.
Ødegaard also had a very successful campaign last season for Real Sociedad after impressing in Holland the season before. Despite his seemingly low goal contributions total, the 22-year-old was a revelation for the La Liga outfit, scoring four goals and providing six assists in the league for La Real in 31 appearances (29 starts) for La Real.
With Sociedad, Ødegaard created 68 chances for Sociedad, which is an average of two chances created per 90. Not quite as impressive as his numbers with Vitesse, but it is still good evidence to prove that he can consistently create in a top league.
On top of his noteworthy creative stats, Ødegaard averaged a dribble success rate of 61%, which again proves that he is a dynamic dribbler and is constantly looking to take on his man and make something happen in the final third.
The 22-year-old also has a pass success rate of 85%, which is very impressive for a number 10 since it shows that he can consistently play dangerous balls into his teammates and find them almost every time. It is also worth mentioning that one of Ødegaard’s most impressive attributes is the weight he puts on his passes; he tries to put his teammate in the best possible position to score or have a shot.
As he did for Vitesse in the Eredivisie, Ødegaard scored two of his four goals outside the box for Real Sociedad. Again, this shows that he is a very good striker of the ball and is able to produce something special for his team at crucial moments. One of his four goals was from a free kick, which again highlights his ability to produce from dead ball situations.
The Norwegian again showed his willingness to track back and help his team defend last season for Sociedad, averaging a tackle success rate of 70%, making 17 interceptions, 14 blocks and 3 clearances. Ødegaard also made 517 pressures, which averages out to 18 pressures per 90, which again shows his willingness to press the opposition and win the ball back – something that would have caught Arteta’s eye.
Finally, Ødegaard’s progressive abilities is something that must be touched on. For Sociedad last season, the Norwegian made over three open play passes per 90 into the penalty box and made over six open play passes per 90 into the final third. To put this into context, both of these averages are higher than those of Lionel Messi, Frenkie De Jong, Toni Kroos, Sergio Busquets and Santi Cazorla.
There aren’t many glaring flaws to Ødegaard’s game other than his weak foot. Out of all 25 of his goals he has scored in his senior career, NONE of them have been scored with his weaker right foot. This could prove to be a problem for the Norwegian since if an opponent was to constantly force him on to his right foot, it could limit his impact on the game. There are also question marks surrounding his relatively dainty frame.
However, in his prime with Arsenal, Mesut Özil was never the strongest played in the League and was very one-footed but still found ways to impact the game with his magical left foot and lack of physicality. In fact, Özil’s playstyle is very similar to that of Ødegaard; maybe the latter could be the former’s successor?