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Arsenal's Odegaard: Ozil comparisons are a big compliment

09:24 IST 07/03/2022
Martin Odegaard Arsenal 2021-22
The Norway international is enjoying his football in north London and has been billed by some as a natural successor to a World Cup-winning playmaker

Martin Odegaard is reluctant to compare himself with former Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, but admits that comparisons being made with a World Cup-winning Gunners star of the recent past are a “big compliment”.

The general consensus is that an ex-Germany international who filled the No.10 role at Emirates Stadium for seven-and-a-half years never truly unlocked his full potential in English football.

There was, however, no doubting Ozil’s creative qualities and Norwegian midfielder Odegaard is now being charged with the task of emulating the efforts of another big-money signing that went before him.

What has been said?

Odegaard, who joined Arsenal from Real Madrid on a permanent deal in 2021 after initially impressing on loan, has contributed nine goals and six assists across 47 appearances for the Gunners and is already being placed into the Ozil bracket.

He has told TV2 of those discussions: “I’m not a fan of comparing myself to other players, but I take it as a big compliment. He was a player I looked up to a lot. He was one of my favourites when I was younger.

“I feel I am in very good shape. It is always difficult to compare with things you have done before, but I feel I deliver at a good level every day.”

The bigger picture

Odegaard has had to be patient at times this season when looking to nail down a regular spot in Mikel Arteta’s plans, but he has been starring of late as Arsenal force their way into top-four contention.

He is enjoying his football, having struggled to live up to expectations at Real Madrid on the back of a high-profile move as a 16-year-old, and feels very much at home in north London.

The 23-year-old added: “I feel I am in a good place in life.

“I'm happy and thrive here. It's a nice bunch, a nice squad and a nice environment. I am also closer to home.”

He went on to say of Arteta and the chances of a Spanish tactician following in the footsteps of current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola – his coaching mentor – when it comes to being one of the best in the business: “I absolutely think he has all the qualities he needs. He is already a top manager, and I think he will be for many years to come.

“He is young, just like our team, and will only get better. I think we will see a lot of him in the future.”

Arsenal edged out Watford 3-2 in their latest outing, with Odegaard on the scoresheet in that contest, and they now sit fourth in the Premier League table while still boasting games in hand on all of those around them.

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