Real Madrid still see attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard as a key fixture within their long-term plans despite allowing him to join Arsenal on loan last month.
That is according to Spanish media outlet Marca, who claim the La Liga giants still see the Norway international as an important member of the squad who will get better with age.
Odegaard had struggled to cement himself in Zinedine Zidane’s plans at the Bernabeu earlier this season, prompting Madrid to allow him to leave on loan for the remainder of the season.
Since joining Arsenal, Odegaard, who was also linked with a return to Real Sociedad before settling on a move to north London, has made six appearances, including a solid performance in the thrilling 3-2 victory in the Europa League over Benfica on Thursday evening.
But despite having admitted that he would be open to joining Arsenal on a permanent basis if the opportunity arose, the north London club’s hopes of keeping hold of the midfielder appear to have been dashed.
Whilst Odegaard has not figured in Madrid’s plans this season, they believe he will return to the Spanish capital in a much better condition after earning a consistent run of games in England.
At the age of just 22, it is fair to say that he still has the best years of his career ahead of him, and he is predicted to only get better.
Madrid’s desire to make the most of Odegaard’s qualities ahead of next season should not really come as too big a surprise to anyone, in truth, as Zidane recently admitted that he would have preferred to have kept hold of the Norwegian, opposed to him leaving on loan.
“Odegaard? He wanted to leave, we talked two, three times about it,” Zidane said, as quoted by the Mirror, earlier this month. “He wanted to play and I told him to stay and fight for his place.
“I wanted him back from his loan [at Real Sociedad last season] and I told him to stay because the season is still very long and he would have had his chances.
“But he wanted to leave and play. I really wanted him in my squad.”
With that in mind, should Odegaard continue to go from strength to strength between now and the of the season at Arsenal, Zidane could be inheriting a player that feels like a new signing.
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Despite Odegaard’s potential, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has admitted that he would prefer to see Emile Smith Rowe, who is another extremely talented attacking-midfielder, start ahead of the loanee.
Speaking to BT Sport, Keown said: “There’s a player there, somewhere, underneath all that, he’s got flashes of real quality.
“But Smith Rowe now was ready to burst into that position. I’d simply put him back in that position.”