Arsenal: Arteta lauds 'intelligent' Odegaard
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Martin Odegaard has been an influential figure in the middle of the park for Arsenal since joining on loan from Real Madrid in the January transfer window. The 22-year-old has made the No 10 role his own under Mikel Arteta, impressing the Spaniard with his surprisingly profound leadership qualities and formidable creative threat.
The midfielder was at his brilliant best during the 3-3 draw with West Ham United on Sunday, catching the eye with a display that deserved to be rewarded with three points.
His range of passing and determination to move the ball forward at every available opportunity was on show for all to see, with the Norwegian’s performance earning rave reviews after the final whistle.
Odegaard’s quick-fire impact has led to rumours suggesting that Arsenal could look to sign him on a permanent basis during the summer, with his future in the Spanish capital far from certain.
He is believed to be willing to leave the La Liga giants if boss Zinedine Zidane, who curbed his involvement during the first half of the campaign, remains in charge beyond the end of the season.
However, if Los Blancos fail to retain their domestic title or achieve Champions League glory in the coming months, there is a chance that Zidane will be sacked which could spell a return to the fold for Odegaard.
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Although a decision to stay with his parent club would be a huge blow for Arsenal, Odegaard is more than capable of being replaced by out-of-favour Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazilian, who has played just 12 times in La Liga for the Catalan club this season, could be available for as little as £35million in the summer according to Spanish newspaper Sport.
Despite his lack of involvement under Ronald Koeman, Coutinho is still a top-class creator and proved his Premier League capabilities during his time with Liverpool.
The 28-year-old provided 99 goal contributions in 201 appearances for the Anfield club before he was poached by Barca to the tune of £130m three years ago.
His career at the Nou Camp has not gone entirely to plan, but he became a regular member of Hansi Flick’s side during his loan spell at Bayern Munich last season, helping the German heavyweights to win the Champions League with three goals and three assists from 11 matches in the competition.
Although Odegaard has no shortage of admirers in north London, Coutinho could be a top-class alternative if the Norwegian opts to return to Real Madrid at the end of the season.
A move for the versatile midfielder would greatly benefit both parties, with Arsenal likely to be lacking creativity in the event of Odegaard’s departure.
The Gunners would also be offering Coutinho a golden chance to revive his career at the highest level of the game.
He proved last season that he can still be a useful asset to any side in Europe, and could thrive under the guidance of Arteta, who has been successful in extracting the best from Odegaard during the Real Madrid loanee’s short spell in the capital.
Coutinho boasts a prolific recent record against Arsenal, scoring three goals in his last two Premier League appearances at the Emirates Stadium, and the Gunners could reap the rewards of signing a player that has dazzled against them in the past.
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will be able to complete the permanent signing of Odegaard in the summer, with the possibility of a move likely to depend on Zidane’s future at the Bernabeu.
However, if they are unsuccessful, it would not be the end of the world by any stretch.
Coutinho is fully capable of recapturing his form of old with the Gunners, who would be crazy to pass up the opportunity to secure his services at a cut-price fee.
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