Martin Odegaard is still just 17 years old, and has only one appearance for Real Madrid.
That said, the hype and expectation surrounding the young Norwegian will not subside, and he has been linked with a move to Premier League side Liverpool – whom Odegaard confesses to be a supporter of.
On the one hand, it would be seem bonkers were Liverpool not to pursue the attacking midfielder, especially if both he and Real Madrid want the deal to happen. Yes he may be unproven at the top level of European football, but the nine-cap international could be a gamble considered worth taking by Reds boss Jürgen Klopp.
At 5 ft 9, Odegaard is not the largest of players in terms of physical stature. His diminutive playing style is well suited to the modern mould of an attacking midfielder – in a similar vein to Klopp’s arsenal of attacking stars at Borussia Dortmund of years gone by.
Odegaard boasts an excellent first touch and control of a football. As well as being blessed with natural balance and pace, Odegaard is also not averse to showboating and performing little tricks in a game situation. Add to this his shooting power and ability to take a free kick, and some (albeit premature) comparisons can be made between the Norwegian and a certain Argentinean Barcelona player.
He has the potential to be a real fan’s favourite and to go far in the game, and working under Klopp may be a fundamental part of his development not only as a footballer, but as a man too.
However, there is a very good argument against Liverpool pursuing Martin Odegaard. The Reds have already been fairly active in this summer’s transfer window, and Klopp has already bolstered his attacking options with a £34 million deal for Southampton’s Sadio Mane. Mane will compete with another ex-Saint Adam Lallana for the forward positions in Liverpool’s line up, alongside already established players such as Coutinho and Firmino.
This isn’t the real issue though – whoever thought competition for places was a bad thing? No, rather the issue is impact and ramifications a potential Odegaard signing could have on Liverpool’s younger players and rising academy stars. Players like Sheyi Ojo, Kevin Stewart and Cameron Brannagan, who are just beginning to break into the first-team squad, would likely be set back an entire season in terms of their development were Odegaard to sign.
What sort of message does this send to all the young men in Liverpool’s academy? Players that Reds fans have been assured Klopp wants to bring through the system rather than relying on youngsters from other top European sides. Would the signing of Odegaard render Liverpool’s academy completely obsolete? Perhaps not to that extreme, but it could represent the metaphorical thin end of the wedge.
In summary, yes, if Klopp feels Odegaard will really benefit the first XI then by all means bring him in. He is after all incredibly talented, and will have a point to prove to Real Madrid. However, if he is going to be predominantly used off of the bench, it will surely do more harm than good to Liverpool Football Club as a whole in the long run. Liverpool have a talented set of under 21s and fringe players at this moment in time, lest it not be forgotten that it was these players that negotiated the tricky 3rd round FA Cup tie against Exeter City this season. Martin Odegaard may well need to leave Real Madrid temporarily to revive/kick start his career, but maybe Liverpool is not the place to do this.
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