London (AFP) – Arsenal completed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season to boost their push for a return to the Champions League.
Odegaard shone when on loan at Real Sociedad last season, but has struggled for game time since returning to the Spanish champions this campaign.
“Martin is of course a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
“Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we’re all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May.”
Arsenal won for the fifth time in six Premier League games at Southampton on Tuesday to move up to eighth and within five points of the top four.
After 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League between 1997/98 and 2016/17, Arsenal have missed out on European club football’s premier competition for the past four years.
Winning the Europa League offers another path back to the Champions League and Odegaard will also be available for the Gunners’ when they face Benfica in the last 32 next month.
At just 22, the Norwegian has already had a nomadic career since signing for Madrid as a 16-year-old.
After loan spells at Vitesse and Herenveen in the Netherlands, it was on another loan spell at Sociedad last season that Odegaard began to show the talent that made Europe’s top clubs scramble for him as a teenager.
Such was the impact he made in the Basque country that Madrid cut his two-season loan deal in half to bring him back to the Bernabeu.
Yet, like many other creative talents, Odegaard has not found favour with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
Arteta, a former Sociedad player himself, was key to convincing Odegaard to come to the Emirates.
“I spoke to him before coming here, of course. That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is,” said Odegaard.
“I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good.
“I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it’s a club that really suits me well. So I think it’s a good match.”
No option for Arsenal to make the move permanent at the end of the season has been included in the deal.
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