Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he was “desperate” to sign current Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard while he was Arsenal’s manager when the midfielder was a teenager back in 2014.
At the time Odegaard was one of the most coveted players in world football when the Norwegian, who was 15 at the time, set the record for the youngest senior Norway player, and the youngest player to play in a UEFA European Championship qualifying match. In fact, Odegaard had trained with the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and even Arsenal before going on to join La Liga giants Real Madrid in January 2015.
Speaking to Norwegian outlet TV 2 Wenger said, “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.
“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.”
Arsene Wenger may not have been able to tempt Odegaard into joining back in 2014, but it wasn’t long before Odegaard was gracing Emirates Stadium having joined the club on loan in January 2021 and then permanently later in the summer.
Martin Odegaard has been in superb form for The Gunners this season. The midfield man has seven goals and five assists in fifteen appearances this season and has been the driving force behind Arsenal reaching the top of the Premier League.
This weekend also marked the first time that Arsene Wenger returned to Emirates Stadium since his departure from the club in 2018, when he watched Arsenal play West Ham United at home in the Boxing Day Premier League clash.