Wolverhampton Wanderers are tracking Real Madrid’s Real Sociedad playmaker Martin Odegaard, according to the Mirror.
The ambitious Molineux club has reportedly sent spies to Spain’s Basque Country to scout the Norwegian talent after a string of stellar performances in La Liga. This news popped up in the media after Odegaard put in a man of the match performance on Thursday in La Liga, in which he created a whopping 10 chances (via WhoScored), one of which was this magical assist to Mikel Oyarzabal in La Liga in Real Sociedad’s victory over Alaves on Thursday.
Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard with a stunning assist for Real Sociedad 😍
— Goal (@goal) September 27, 2019
Odegaard, who has been a journeyman since signing with Real Madrid in January 2015, was again loaned from the Bernabeu to Real Sociedad at the beginning of this term and has caught the eye of the football world again since the start of the season.
The Mirror reports that according to sources in Spain, Madrid’s bosses may listen to offers for the 20-year-old – who could cost up to £20m, and Wolves would look to make a move in the New Year if given the green light from the Spanish capital.
Odegaard is a versatile footballer who plays as a central midfielder but has also been deployed as a winger or attacking midfielder. Odegaard can pick out a pass from near-impossible angles as seen in the video above, dribble past two defenders, and cut onto his left and rocket a shot at goal. He also possesses great speed, physicality, and defensive abilities. He is used as a winger on either flank occasionally due to this side of his game, as well as his 360-degree range of movement on and off the ball. This means he creates a zone around him, making it easy for him to find spaces to exploit.
He was regarded as one of the greatest Nordic talents of this century when he burst onto the scene at 15 years of age. He was courted by the likes of Ajax, Liverpool, and a few other clubs until Real Madrid picked him up from Stromsgodset for €2.8m. To this day, however, Odegaard has made only two appearances for Real Madrid’s first team. He spent two years in the reserves again until he was allowed to leave on loan, first to SC Heerenveen for a season and a half, then to Vitesse Arnhem for a season, both in the Eredivisie.
Odegaard flourished in the Netherlands. He didn’t score as much while at Heerenveen, which kept him out of the conversation, but while at Vitesse he was able to break into the more noticeable stat lines; his nine goals and 12 assists highlight his dual scoring/creative abilities. It was these loan stints in the Eredivisie, five years after signing with Madrid, that made him into a well-rounded player physically, technically, and versatility-wise.
This season, he’s back in La Liga with Real Sociedad and is reminding the world about his ability. This begs the question: what on earth were Real Madrid doing letting him leave for San Sebastián? He would surely inject a bit of spice and energy into a jaded-looking Los Blancos midfield.
Real Madrid have a gentleman's agreement with Sociedad for Ødegaard's 2-year loan move. Real are very attentive to Martin and would want to recover him at the end of the season. To break the agreement they'll have to pay La Real €2m. [@diarioas] pic.twitter.com/BYuHpxGgXN
— Infinite Madrid (@InfiniteMadrid) September 27, 2019
Madrid’s midfielders this season are James Rodriguez, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and Federico Valverde. This looks like a solid midfield on paper. However, manager Zinedine Zidane has not been able to get the best of this midfield and has fielded various combinations surrounding these players in the club’s six La Liga matches in the 2019/20 season. His preferred midfield trio of Casemiro-Kroos-Modric have been disappointing in recent times and he keeps switching things up in a bid to find a new trio, which has contributed to the way Madrid started the season.
We have established how much of a gem and how potent a weapon Odegaard can be, now let us compare him to Madrid’s midfield options this season.
Odegaard vs Casemiro
Casemiro is a defensive midfielder, so this is not the best comparison to make. However, the Brazilian is an intelligent, tactically and technically gifted midfielder who can play on the offensive, and Zidane has used him a few times in that manner this season. He is always ready to contribute to Real Madrid’s counter-attacking style by playing a long forward pass when he spots the run of a teammate.
A midfield that has Casemiro holding down the fort and Odegaard pulling the strings further forward sounds like dream – one that Madrid can afford. We hope to see this soon in La Liga.
Odegaard vs Valverde
Federico Valverde, or “Fede” as he is affectionately known, is Madrid’s 21-year old revelation in the midfield from last season, and the only one trusted to remain at the club as other bright talents moved on either on loan or on transfer.
Valverde is a box-to-box midfielder who will always be involved in both the attacking and defensive phases of play. The Uruguayan’s biggest asset is his dribbling ability which allows him to find pockets of space to run into. Modric is the closest Madrid have to a box-to-box midfielder, but the Croatian national team captain’s strengths lie in dictating play and creating opportunities. This seemingly hands Valverde the advantage over his teammates.
(An analysis of his gameplay is offered on Total Football Analysis, our online magazine that offers in-depth analysis into players’ styles, coaching styles, and football formations).
However, as can be seen from the attributes comparison image above, he doesn’t compare to Odegaard in areas that Zidane needs his midfielders to be even more effective in. Despite being a year older than Odegaard, he looks like he will take a few more years to catch up to the Norwegian in the attributes which he lacks. His attributes, however, show that he can be a good replacement for Casemiro in the pivot role, and can provide great support for Odegaard in the middle.
This could be a very good midfield combination to see in the Santiago Bernabeu in the future.
Odegaard vs Rodriguez
James Rodriguez is, at his best, one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. He is a great dribbler, passer, set-piece taker (arguably the best at the club currently), and has a shooting range that rivals (or maybe even surpasses) Toni Kroos’.
While on loan at Bayern Munich, James acquired some other skills allowing him to merge his natural attacking midfielder talents with a Ramdeuter skill set and a defensive adeptness. Now, apart from brilliant movement on and off the ball which makes him an option for attacks to pass through, he can now challenge for the ball and win it back to re-start attacks.
From the attribute comparison above, we see how much Odegaard has to grow to get to James’ level. Like Odegaard, James can be used on the left-wing as well, but he lacks the pace and physicality which Odegaard has. This is where the Norwegian just edges out the Colombian, as Odegaard can be trusted to play several matches at a stretch and James can’t substitute him in a few matches to keep him fresh. This implies that James feels jaded much quicker than Odegaard does, and Odegaard is almost 10 years his junior.
Odegaard vs Modric
Ballon D’Or winning midfielder, Luka Modric, has been one of La Liga’s and the world’s best midfielders for the larger part of the past decade. However, he has started fading out and Madrid is looking for his replacement.
Usually a midfielder who runs the length of the pitch, the 34-year old has slowed down and now only operates in his midfield zone. He still is brilliant at reading the game and spotting his and opponents moves in order to play a pass or intercept one, though. Also, his efficacy from range is still as good.
However, this slowing down of his has affected Zidane’s dynamics as he used to be the one who ran and Kroos was the one who controlled the middle. Now, Zidane risks a very porous midfield if both of them start alongside Casemiro as Modric’s new style means he can’t effectively cover the areas which Kroos can’t as he used to do before.
From the attributes above, it is clear that Modric is a veteran who Odegaard will do well emulating. A run in the team alongside Modric for the young Norwegian could see a lot of improvement in the 20-year old’s game, which Madrid will benefit from for years to come.
Odegaard vs Kroos
Toni Kroos is a tall and athletic right-footed midfielder known for the range and accuracy of his distribution with either foot, his technique, vision, creativity, reading of the game, and his ability to dictate play in midfield or set up goals with his passing and ball delivery from set-pieces. He also has a great shot and is very efficient from range.
Bar attacking ability, Kroos is a better option to have in the middle of the park. Kroos also possesses great stamina which helps him play for long periods in a game. However, unlike Odegaard, his energy drops with the team’s energy which sort of betrays his ability to handle pressure. Odegaard, on the other hand, will keep going in every situation and has got both the pace and stamina to do so.
Real Sociedad have two years to make the most of Odegaard’s presence in the team, but with the Wolves from Molineux lurking, they may not be able to even enjoy him for a year. Real Madrid too may have to keep looking into Odegaard’s career as the youngster has more than proven himself ready to play in such a big club.
However, Madrid will do well to allow Odegaard flourish once again at Real Sociedad. The young Norwegian is building something over at Sociedad and allowing Wolves pry him away might his progress. Even though the EPL is a great league for Odegaard to develop further, Madrid will benefit more if he finishes at Real Sociedad.
The youngster’s aim is still to triumph at Real Madrid and with his work ethic, maturity and immeasurable talent, Martin Odegaard’s future seems very bright. Madrid have to wait, but not idly – he must be taken care of by both Real Sociedad and Madrid.