Martin Odegaard has the character and intelligence to be a true leader for Arsenal, according to manager Mikel Arteta.
The 22-year-old has made four appearances since joining on loan from Real Madrid, where he struggled for starts, in the January transfer window.
He caught the eye in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Benfica in the Europa League, with no Arsenal player creating more big chances (two) than the midfielder, level with Hector Bellerin.
Odegaard also led the way for passes in the opposition half (29) and tackles (three), highlighting two different aspects to the Norway international’s game.
Arteta has been impressed by what he has seen so far and has backed the loanee to grow in stature over the coming weeks.
“On the pitch he is showing a lot of character and intelligence – ingredients any leader should have,” Arteta said. “He’s been here a very short time but has adapted really quickly.
“He’s gaining more and more respect from the players and staff. I think his weight on the team will increase week in week out.”
Back to the training pitches.
Back to work
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 20, 2021
Odegaard, who has previously spent time on loan with Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad, is due to return to Madrid at the end of the campaign.
There has been talk of Arsenal signing the Stromsgodset player permanently, but Arteta remains unsure if Madrid will agree to a transfer.
“We’ve got him for a few months. We have to maximise this time with him to bring all his qualities to the team,” the Spaniard said.
“At the end of the season we will see together if we can take this relationship forward. But at the moment that doesn’t just depend on us.”
Odegaard is in line to start Arsenal’s clash against Manchester City on Sunday, with the Gunners seeking to end a seven-match Premier League losing run in this fixture.
The game will see Arteta reunite with Pep Guardiola, who he worked under as City’s assistant boss for three and a half years before switching to Arsenal in December 2019.
Although Arteta acknowledged he shares many coaching similarities with Guardiola, the Arsenal boss intends to do things his own way at Emirates Stadium.
“You can share some values and ideas. The way we’ve been raised and educated in football is similar because we have the same background and worked together,” Arteta said.
“But what do you do to make it work the way you need? You sometimes need investment, sometimes you have players who can already provide what you want.
“You have to keep evolving and finding a way. There’s not just one formula that works. If you try to do that you will fail.”
Arsenal have won just three of their last 18 league games against the side starting the day in top spot, which is the position occupied by City heading into Sunday’s match.