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Martin Odegaard has revealed the crucial conversation with manager Mikel Arteta which persuaded him to move to Arsenal.
Odegaard was struggling to make an impact at Real Madrid, whom he joined as a prodigiously talented teenager, when Arsenal’s interest in a loan move materialised in January 2021. The 24-year-old, who is now captain of Arsenal and Norway, was blown away by Arteta’s passion despite the club’s struggles at the time.
“I spoke to Mikel Arteta on a Zoom call and he told me all about the project,” Odegaard wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “At the time, Arsenal were not doing well. They were way down like 15th in the table, but that meeting … Honestly, I challenge anyone to come away from a meeting with Arteta and not believe everything he tells you.
“He is next level. It’s hard to explain. He’s passionate, he’s intense and sometimes, yeah, he’s a bit crazy … but when he speaks, you understand that whatever he says will happen, will happen.
“He told me his plan, everything he was building towards. He knew exactly what needed to change at the club. He told me all about these amazing young players in the squad — Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, etc etc. He told me how he wanted me to fit in and how I was going to improve.
“I got this strong feeling that he was onto something really special.”
Odegaard’s instinct proved correct as Arteta galvanised Arsenal from the playing staff and the hierarchy to the fans in the stands, lifting them to a title challenge this season, and the Gunners are currently five points clear of reigning champions Manchester City.
“We’re in the title race now, but there’s a long way to go and, trust me, no one is thinking about May yet,” Odegaard added. “It’s a cliché but we are taking it game by game, training session by training session. One piece at a time.
“I will say this, though, if there’s anyone left who still doesn’t fully believe in this team, take it from me: there are no limits on what we can achieve. No one can tell me otherwise.”