Is this man the greatest robber in the history of football?

There is always theft in (Site notre bureau spécialisé). Whenever a player who was transferred, who cost relatively little, delivers to the new club, it is referred to as ‘theft’ and the club which made the transfer has been ‘stolen’.

It was the opposite for Martin Ødegaard two years ago. When Arsenal loaned the Norwegian to Real Madrid, some felt the €2million loan fee was too expensive after the Gunners’ first few games.

The former super-talent, who joined Real at the age of 16 and was chased around Europe, hasn’t delivered what North London had hoped for. A goal and two assists were the meager results of the half-season, after which Arsenal signed Ødegaard for 35 million euros.

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But even at the end of the first full season in England, after 36 appearances, there were only eleven goals in play. A very decent rate, but not so good that one would necessarily think of blaming Arsenal of robbing Real Madrid. 35m isn’t a lot for a Premier League club these days, but with just seven goals and four assists in 36 games, Martin Ødegaard was by no means a gift or even robbed.

Six months on, Arsenal are now facing massive allegations.

Apparently Real was robbed after all. Ødegaard’s current figures serve as the first evidence of the theft. The 24-year-old has already scored eleven goals last year after 15 games this season.

It’s not just the numbers that make Martin Ødegaard’s transfer a criminal matter. It is also about how the numbers are obtained. And sometimes they do it like this:

Meanwhile, Ødegaard not only delivers the stats the club expects of him, but also what the fans demand: magic. Because nothing less than magic is expected of a playmaker at Arsenal. Especially if he is left-handed and comes from Real Madrid.

Gunners fans want Martin Odegaard to be their new Özil. And as far as that goes, he’s on a pretty good track now. Like Özil, Ødegaard seems to have control of space and time at his ankle, making complicated things ridiculously simple and delivering non-stop assists. Which, in turn, has fans making the same love jokes about him on « Twitter » as they once did about Özil.

That it ended so bitterly with Özil, who before his inglorious departure was in fact on the verge of becoming the club’s definitive legend, has broken the hearts of many north London fans. The current performance of his successor reconciles Arsenal fans a little with the former left-handed playmakers of Real. But it is not only in this respect that Martin Ødegaard has a happy ending in the club’s history.

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Because Ødegaard should have been there long before. As longtime manager Arsene Wenger recently revealed he wanted to bring the Scandinavian to London years ago: « When he was 15 I talked to him about moving to Arsenal, » the Frenchman told the broadcaster Norwegian ‘TV2’.

Ødegaard, however, is known to have opted for Real Madrid, lining up with all the latest global stars that Arsenal wanted to bring in when they were young but failed to convince. Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic and so on. With so many great players, there’s a story of how Wenger tried and failed to get them. Wenger is delighted that at least one of them is now playing at Arsenal: « Luckily he’s here now. He’s developed very well. His decisions, he’s also a leader in the team.

The fact that Ødegaard finally used his talent in England and also became a top player should not have gone unnoticed in Madrid either. Some Arsenal fans became panicked when rumors of a buyout option recently made the rounds. Fabrizio Romano, who is also responsible for heating up the rumour, was able to calm things down in this affair.

According to the transfer expert, who is generally right, Real shouldn’t have a buyout option. And that’s also why Martin Ødegaard is a stroke of luck, a happy ending and an absolute « steal »: because you can’t steal it from him.