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



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

Real Madrid not contemplating rehiring Jose Mourinho with Ancelotti’s future uncertain



Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s uncertain future has caused a severe rise in reports over potential replacements for the manager post at Real Madrid. There is no shortage of options for the administration at the Santiago Bernabeu as they continue to scout the right man to take the team forward.

Jose Mourinho was one of the candidates speculated to be considered internally at the club. However, MARCA has come out to deny such a possibility. As it stands, Real Madrid do not consider the return of the former manager as an option.

Over the past few years, it has become common to see the Merengues look towards managers for a second stint. The formula worked wonders when they brought back Zinedine Zidane in 2019 for a new term and he pioneered a ten-match winning streak to give his side the edge over Barcelona to clinch La Liga.

Their next step led them to Ancelotti, who had already managed the team before, and the result was similar. In the first season of his second stint, he led Los Blancos to the UEFA Champions League and La Liga.

It is thus not surprising that Mourinho’s name has re-emerged as a candidate to arrive next summer. The Portuguese led the side from 2010-2013 and took down Barcelona’s golden generation to win one La Liga, one Copa Del Rey and one Spanish Super Cup. The Champions League was the one big void in his achievements in Spain.

The 60-year-old tactician currently serves as the manager of AS Roma in Serie A and has seen moderate success at the club. The Italians sit fifth on the table with 14 wins in 27 games. They have scored 35 goals and conceded 26 in their league run so far.

A second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, is not on the cards for the Portuguese.

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