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Why Arsenal should sign Martin Odegaard over James Maddison

By Josh Barker Published: August 7, 2021 5:20 pm

Last Updated: August 7, 2021 5:24 pm

Arsenal’s need for creative reinforcements Arsenal’s dismal start to the 2020/21 campaign largely came down to their severe lack of creativity.

To solve this glaring issue Mikel Arteta would begin to hand Emile Smith Rowe a chance in the first team.

And to Arteta’s credit, this worked wonders, with the 21-year-old looking like the first proper no.10 at Arsenal since Mesut Ozil.

The Gunners would then sign Martin Odegaard on loan during the winter transfer window to help share some of the creative burden with Smith Rowe.

However, the Norwegian would return from his loan at the end of 2020/21, with Arsenal once again left searching for a no.10-style player to support Smith Rowe.

Early in the window Arsenal looked to have found the perfect player in Emi Buendia, but the north Londoners were pipped to that signing by Aston Villa.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal at American Express Community Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Brighton, England.The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Maddison targeted After losing out on Buendia, Arsenal now look to have turned their attention primarily towards James Maddison.

The Gunners’ links to the midfielder emerged back in June:

Seen some rumours about James Maddison to Arsenal tonight.

I’m told that Mikel Arteta is a huge fan of Maddison and he’s certainly a target – but the fee will be an issue.

Chelsea also want him if they lose Ziyech. 🔴 #AFC #CFC

— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) June 15, 2021

But they have begun to ramp up in the last week or so. Arsenal are said to have offered players and cash for Maddison, whilst Leicester City are only believed to want money for any transfer:

Arsenal have offered Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson in talks for James Maddison.

Eddie Nketiah has also been mentioned but Leicester’s preference as things stand would be a cash-only deal.https://t.co/lk7iLU9zJ5

— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) August 4, 2021

Why Odegaard is a better option than Maddison On the surface, Arsenal signing James Maddison would look to be a good idea.

He is a proven Premier League talent who, at 24, is still yet to enter his prime years.

However, when you delve a bit deeper into it, there are actually several reasons why Arsenal should avoid a Maddison pursuit and instead focus their efforts on re-signing Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid.

Back in June, it was expected that Odegaard would stay in Madrid for the 2021/22 campaign.

However, reports earlier this week are now suggesting that Odegaard is likely to be sold this summer.

So, here at 101, we have examined why Arsenal should move for the 22-year-old this summer instead of Maddison.

Fitting with Smith Rowe First up comes the two players positioning. Emile Smith Rowe, in his short first-team spell, has clearly done his best work from the central attacking midfield role.

He can operate on the left as well, but he is much more suited to playing through the middle. ESR has also been handed the coveted no.10 shirt this summer as well, suggesting that he is set to be Arsenal’s main central attacking midfielder in 2021/22.

So, any more creative players brought in will need to be able to operate alongside Smith Rowe, rather than as a direct replacement.

And when comparing Odegaard and Maddison, it is the former who looks best suited to this task.

Maddison has spent the majority of his career operating as the sole CAM for Norwich or Leicester. He has been used as a left-midfielder on occasion, but he, like Smith Rowe, clearly works best as the no.10 in a 4-2-3-1.

So, if Arsenal do sign Maddison, it would be very hard to fit both he and Smith Rowe into the same team whilst still getting the best out of the pair.

Odegaard, on the other hand, whilst a natural no.10, has spent a good chunk of his senior career operating from the right-wing.

He has so far done so on 81 occasions, and would play some of his best football from this position whilst on Real Sociedad’s books.

This of course means that Odegaard can fit seamlessly into the same XI as Smith Rowe with both players still being utilised properly.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 14: James Maddison of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 14, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Transfer fees, strengthening direct rivals Another big issue that should tip scales towards an Odegaard signing is the actual transfer fee.

Though not 100 per cent official, it is believed that Real Madrid would want around €50m to part with the Norwegian, which is about £42.5m.

Maddison, on the other hand, would reportedly set any potential suitor back between £70m and £60m.

And as Leicester do not want to accept any players for Maddison – as covered above – then it would be a straight cash deal, obviously meaning that Odegaard would be the cheaper option for Arsenal.

But even if both players were set to cost the exact same amount, a case could still be made that Arsenal should sign Odegaard instead.

The main reason for this being that Leicester are a direct rival of Arsenal, whereas Madrid are of course not.

The Gunners are far from the team that finished in the top-four every year under Arsene Wenger and Mikel Arteta’s side are clearly not challenging the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United for the title.

Instead, Arsenal are no doubt aiming for a top-six finish in 2021/22, leaving them to compete with the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa and of course Leicester.

So why would Arsenal want to give a direct rival £60m-70m? Especially Leicester, who have proven for many years now that their recruitment is incredibly effective.

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