Arsene Wenger has revealed that he was “desperate” to sign Martin Odegaard while he was Arsenal’s manager when the midfielder was a teenager.
Odegaard initially joined Arsenal on loan in January 2021 and his move from Real Madrid was made permanent that summer for around £35m.
The midfielder has grown to be an integral player for Mikel Arteta and the 23-year-old has been their captain this season.
The Norway international has been in stunning form this term as he has grabbed seven goals and five assists in his 15 Premier League appearances.
Odegaard has been able to rebuild his career at Arsenal after he stagnated at Real Madrid.
The 24-year-old was earmarked as a special talent from an early age and many of the top teams in the world fought to sign him before Madrid secured his services.
He was only used sparingly by the Spanish giants but he is now coming into his own as an Arsenal player.
Wenger was at The Emirates on Boxing Day as Arsenal battled back from behind to beat West Ham 3-1.
The club’s former manager has subsequently revealed that he would have loved to sign Odegaard before he joined Real Madrid.
“That was hard. When he was 15, I talked to him. I actually spoke to Martin about it after the game now on Boxing Day,” Wenger told Norwegian outlet TV 2.
“I was desperate to sign him. Fortunately, he is here now. He really is like a young Cesc Fabregas. I think he has developed into a complete player.
“He is a very calm player who analyses the game well. He has his feet firmly planted on the ground. I don’t really want to say exactly what I talked to Martin about.
“I am super impressed. He really is a down-to-earth and nice boy. The way he analyses the game. He also did that as a 15-year-old… the sharpness!
“He will do well. He makes decisions quickly, and always optimally. It is remarkable! I like him and the way he makes football look so easy.
“He has developed very well. It’s really amazing. His decisions, he is also a leader in the team. You see that Norway is now getting more top-class players, and I hope they can do well internationally in the years to come.”
Wenger also admitted that he was “worried” about the midfielder during his time at Real Madrid.
“I was worried about Martin,” Wenger continued. “I think he lost a bit of his creative attitude. Creativity stagnated.
“After he came to Arsenal, he found his creativity back.
“He plays amazingly well and masters everything in the game. He is complete. I like him in every way in the game. Defensive and offensive.”
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