'Exceptional' - Pep Guardiola reveals glowing first impression Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard left on him during Bayern Munich trial training session

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Martin Odegaard chest Arsenal Bournemouth Premier League 2022-23
Pep Guardiola fondly recalled the first time he saw a teenaged Martin Odegaard play football, ahead of Manchester City's crunch match with Arsenal
  • Guardiola said Odegaard's talent was obvious at 16
  • Midfielder visited Bayern Munich in 2014
  • Norwegian became Arsenal captain last year

WHAT HAPPENED? The Man City boss reminisced about seeing Odegaard play for the first time when the Arsenal captain was approaching his 16th birthday. In December 2014 the Norwegian visited a number of top clubs including Bayern Munich, where Guardiola was coach, and Arsenal, before agreeing to join Real Madrid.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "I remember perfectly, he came with his father for two or three days of training sessions. I needed five minutes to think, 'this player plays good'", Guardiola told a press conference ahead of Man City's top-of-the-table clash against Arsenal.

"I think he made a tour all over Europe, training for however many clubs. In the end, Arsenal was attractive for him, an exceptional player, captain at his age in Arsenal in a short time there is because you have to be a special personality, has the strength to be captain. Mikel wouldn’t give him captaincy if he didn’t have the strength to be captain."

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Odegaard made his debut for Real Madrid aged 16 but could not hold down his place in the team after a series of loans across Europe and opted to join Arsenal permanently in 2021. He has scored 12 goals and contributed 11 assists in the Premier League this season in Arsenal's first serious title challenge for 19 years. Guardiola added: "He’s been really good, moves really good in the pockets around the box – not a player just to make assists – and winning games, scoring goals. Really good."


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WHAT NEXT? After Wednesday's match at the Etihad Stadium, City visit Fulham on Sunday while Arsenal host Chelsea next Tuesday.