Martin Odegaard’s Title Prediction, Ballon D’Or Claim And Barcelona Transfer Statement

Two years ago, Martin Odegaard joined Arsenal from Real Madrid on an initial loan deal until the end of the 2020/21 season.

The Norwegian, who was once dubbed as one of the most talented youngsters in Europe, made the loan switch to the Emirates Stadium on January 27, 2021, after struggling for game time at Los Blancos.

Odegaard was firmly out of favour in Madrid and had just made 11 first-team appearances in a turbulent six-year spell.

Although he did spend some time out on loan at Real Sociedad and Vitesse amongst others, there was some risk on the transfer given Odegaard’s lack of senior opportunities in his career.

Odegaard came into a dressing room that was struggling and going through a transition period under Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners crashed out of the domestic cups in the early rounds, struggled in Europe and were also struggling in the Premier League, which put Arteta under severe pressure.

Odegaard didn’t particularly light up the Emirates during his six-month loan spell, having scored just twice in 20 appearances in all competitions.

However, Arteta saw enough from the Norway international to sign him on a permanent basis for a fee of around £30million on a long-term deal.

It was a move that raised eyebrows at the time, but he wasn’t the only young player to move to the Gunners that summer, with Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale also making the switch.

It seemed as though Arteta was changing the culture inside the Gunners’ changing room, and despite a rocky start to the 21/22 season, the Spaniard managed to get Arteta clicking as they formed a top-four push.

Odegaard also began to settle into life at the club and was at the heart of everything they did in the No.10 role.

Odegaard produced a much-improved seven goals and five assists in 40 appearances that season, although Arsenal just narrowly missed out on a place in the Champions League.

But the Gunners showed signs of promise and had a set philosophy and style – something they hadn’t had for years, even towards the latter stages of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.

There was a sense Arteta was building something special at the Gunners – but many didn’t expect them to forge a title challenge this early into this reign after an impressive start to the current campaign.

Arsenal have won 16 of their opening 19 Premier League matches and currently sit at the top of the pile, five points ahead of Manchester City.

And Odegaard has been a key figure in the Gunners’ excellent league form, having scored eight goals and provided six assists in 18 games so far.

He has already trumped last season’s total with exactly half a campaign to go and there’s little doubt he will smash that return.

Having helped Arsenal to the top of the table, Odegaard will no doubt be hoping to continue his form and turn into the player Real hoped he would be just a matter of years ago since he joined.

Another aspect that Odegaard has seemingly improved following his move to north London is his mentality and that was evident in his title prediction.

“Honestly, we don’t care about City or any other team,” he said on Monday. “We expected them to win so that was not a big surprise. We just focused on our game. The way we beat Manchester United also gives us a special feeling that will help as well.

“It’s a long season. We’re just halfway through, there are many games to be played so we have to stay calm and humble. Our only focus is the next game and that’s all that matters. We have to stay focused.”

Odegaard has directly contributed with a goal in five of his six league appearances and his excellent form has seen him tipped with winning the Ballon d’Or in the near future.

Given he would have to compete with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Jude Bellingham for the award, it might be a tough nut to crack but anything is possible in football.