- Odegaard joined Madrid at 16
- Struggled to impress in Spain
- Was worried about making mistakes
WHAT HAPPENED? Odegaard signed for Real Madrid as a 16-year-old back in 2015 amid huge expectations. The teenager was one of Europe's most sought-after youngsters at the time but found it hard to impress in the Spanish capital. Odegaard was sent out on loan four times before joining Arsenal on a permanent basis in 2021 and has taken time out to explain why he believes he struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I stopped playing with the spark that was typical of my game. I went a bit too safe for a time. I was worrying more about not making mistakes than actually playing my game," he told the Players' Tribune. "And my game was always about making a difference. Playing the difficult pass. I can understand why it happened now. I was still a little kid, but I’ve learned that you have to be ruthless. You have to not give a f***. You have to show the real you on the pitch."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Odegaard also spoke about the criticism he received from the media during his tine with Real Madrid, adding: "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. If you really know me, you know I smile a lot, but I think from the outside sometimes my face looks more grumpy than I actually am. It made it easier for them to write about how I was struggling to adapt. I remember reading a headline like: 'NOW IT’S MAKE OR BREAK TIME FOR MARTIN ØDEGAARD' And I’m like, make or break? I’m 18 years old!"
IN THREE PHOTOS:GettyGetty Images
WHAT NEXT FOR ODEGAARD: The Norwegian is now enjoying life at Arsenal and will lead the team out again on Saturday against Brentford in the Premier League at the Emirates.