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Martin Odegaard reflects on his time at Real Madrid: “Maybe if I’d been Spanish…”

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Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

In a recent letter on The Players’ Tribune, former Real Madrid midfielder and current Arsenal captain, Martin Odegaard, has looked back on his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Norwegian international signed for Real Madrid as a 16-year-old prospect in the summer of 2015, arriving from Stromgodset. Despite his young age, the attacking midfielder was made a part of the club’s B team while he constantly trained with the first-team setup.

Revealing that he had interest from a host of top clubs across Europe at the time, Odegaard wrote: “My dad handled everything with the clubs, and there were a lot. We went to Bayern, Dortmund, Man Utd, Liverpool, Madrid, Arsenal too.”

“So, why Real Madrid then? I talked about it a lot with my dad and the rest of my family. In the end, Madrid is Madrid. They were the Champions League holders with the best players in the world.”

Odegaard also revealed that the presence of Isco, a player he admired, as well as Zinedine Zidane’s presence as manager of the B team played a role in his decision.

However, things were not smooth for him at Real Madrid, as he could not establish himself in the first team or the reserves.

“With the B team, I wasn’t with them regularly so I didn’t find that connection. In the first team, I was just some kid who came to train. I wasn’t involved in matches. I felt a bit like an outsider. I was stuck in between.”

The Norwegian was also critical of the Spanish media, as he felt he was made an easy target by them.

After a couple of years, I just wasn’t progressing. The press came after me for not immediately living up to the hype. I was an easy target. I remember reading a headline like: “NOW IT’S MAKE OR BREAK TIME FOR MARTIN ØDEGAARD.”

“Maybe If I’d been Spanish, I might have been given a bit more time to grow,” he writes.

And eventually, after a string of loan spells, Odegaard decided it was time for him to move on in search of regular game time.

“I was always thinking about what I needed to do to be the best version of me I could be. That’s why I needed to move on.”

“I had a good connection with Zidane from when he coached the B team and he took good care of me, so I wanted to believe it would work out this time.

“But then I got COVID. I started the first two games of that season in 2020-21, but I wasn’t fully recovered. I didn’t perform at my best and after that, I didn’t get many more chances. Almost nothing. Meanwhile, I’m watching Real Sociedad on TV thinking, I could’ve still been there.”

However, Odegaard looks back on his time at the club fondly, especially given that he got to share the dressing soom with some of the greatest ever footballers.

“The ones who spoke English — Kroos, Modric, Ronaldo — took extra care of me in the beginning. They gave me advice and helped me a lot,” he wrote.

“Going to Madrid was a good thing for me. I learned so much about what it takes to reach the top. I watched, trained and learned from the best players in the world, my idols. I played at the Bernabéu. I learned to be tough and to face challenges. It’s part of who I am now. It’s the reason I’m where I am today.”

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Real Madrid News

‘We will see’ – PSG manager coy on Kylian Mbappe’s future

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Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain manager Luis Enrique has asked for patience regarding Kylian Mbappe’s future, saying that everyone must wait for the player and PSG to make an official announcement.

Now that the Ligue 1 team has qualified for the UEFA Champions League semi-final, the player is rightly expected to focus on the continental glory, keeping aside his impending move to Real Madrid.

Speaking after his side’s 4-1 win over Barcelona in the UCL quarter-final, Enrique said that he cannot comment on anything unless Mbappe himself releases a statement.

“Let’s wait for Kylian to speak about his future. When Mbappe and PSG will speak in public, we will see,” said Enrique as quoted by Fabrizio Romano.

“It’s like a process. Until Mbappe goes and speaks in public, I’m just here waiting and staying silent,” he added.

What’s going on with Mbappe?

Mbappe’s time with PSG is coming to an end as his contract expires this season, and if reports are to be believed, he has chosen to depart as a free agent.

Reports suggest he is set to join Real Madrid, with rumours of a contract already in place.

Kylian Mbappe scored two goals against Barcelona. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Now, it was suggested that PSG’s elimination from the Champions League could have hastened the process, potentially bringing Mbappe’s move to Madrid closer. 

However, their qualification for the semi-final, and the chance of facing Real Madrid in the final, mean any official announcement will likely be delayed.

As for the player, he revealed after the match that his future will not change even if PSG go on to win the UEFA Champions League. 

“Playing for the team from my country’s capital is very special, I dreamed of these play-offs when I came to PSG. It’s a great day for the club,” said the forward.

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