To be or not to be, that’s the question ….. Sorry this is not Shakespeare reincarnated. But it wouldn’t be too far off to allude to the question of which central attacking midfielder Arsenal should go for, to the dilemma of Hamlet in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy –Hamlet. It is clear, at least going by rumors in the media, that the two primary targets for Arsenal to bolster the creative hub of the team, are James Maddison and Martin Odegaard. Two central attacking midfielders, who offer comparable qualities on the ball. They both excel in specific aspects in what they offer to their teams and anyone of them will undoubtedly improve this Arsenal team substantially in the attacking third. The popular option among the two is Madison, going by what I see and read on social media even though it wouldn’t represent the smartest choice in my opinion. You see folks drooling over the prospect of having him in the team as he is obviously a quality player to have in the team.
That said, I do think Odegaard would be a better fit and offer a bit more for this Arsenal team than Maddison. I think Odegaard should be the preferred option in recruiting that CAM for the team. I know Maddison thick some boxes like being homegrown, PL proven, offers goal threat and assists, but I think Odegaard, except not homegrown, can assist and provide goal threat as well and also offer a lot more. Looking beyond those metrics, Odegaard has the primacy over Maddison in so many other ways and factors.
One thing that is undisputed about Odegaard for Arsenal was his ability to play and link up with ESR. Prior to his injury last season, Odegaard played and interchanged so well and fluidly with ESR between central attacking midfield and the pockets of space in the left side of our attack. The chemistry and understanding between them changed the trajectory of our attack albeit briefly. It is apparent how Arteta loves to play a creative player in one of the flanks in our attack as opposed to two orthodox wingers. It is thus imperative that the CAM we are signing can operate on the wings and interchange comfortably.
I watched Odegaard in the 2019/20 season at Real Sociedad where he had a very good understanding with Isak, Portu and especially Oyarzabal who operates as creative player from the wing, culminating in a 16 G/A contribution that season. So I was not really surprised to see the good link-up and understanding with The Smith and Saka. There is very little evidence to suggest that Maddison can operate that way effectively. Continuity is quite crucial in developing and implementing a footballing philosophy and it is thus why Odegaard would much rather help us in how we want to play and develop as a team than Maddison. With Odegaard there will not be any need for a period of adaptation and getting to know his teammates as that was done last time and we can expect him to hit the ground running and boy, we need to hit the ground running from the off. Besides, there were all indications to suggest that he loved it here and was enjoying his game and you could see how well he related to the likes of Saka, The Smith and others even after he went back to Madrid.
One underappreciated aspect of Odegaard as a player and a person is his maturity and character. For a player of his age, Odegaard’s maturity and character is very impressive. It is not surprising that he has been made captain of his national team at 21. It speaks volumes of how Odegaard is thought of as a leader and a player. You rarely see his name making headlines for the wrong reason. For team morale and locker room harmony, Odegaard is more desirable. Look I am not saying Maddison is going to be Guendouzi mark two, but there are murmurs of him being a bit of a difficult character to deal with and apparently fell out with Rodgers last season, hence why Leicester are willing to cash in on him. For all the preaching of Mikel Arteta about organizational culture and the non-negotiable, I have my doubts about how Maddison is going to cope with that if indeed we sign him.
In terms of work rate, Odegaard offers so much and was instrumental in leading our press and dropping back to defend as well. There is some element of hunger in how he played, you could say he is on to prove himself and also live up to the hype that surrounded him since he broke onto the scene. Obviously he’s had his doubters especially in Madrid, but I feel it is more a combination of having more established players like Modric and Hazard ahead of him and not quite fitting into how Madrid played, rather than not having the talent and ability. Odegaard only joined us in January, and it didn’t take long for him shine and impress. You could see straight away what he can do on and off the ball. I am convinced he has a higher ceiling than Maddison and younger as well and will only get better especially when he is settled and trusted. There are occasions where Maddison drifts out of games and almost become invincible especially when he doesn’t score, he very rarely contributes to build-up or have an overall impact in a game where it is a bit tight. I just feel he isn’t that influential for us to splash that much money on him especially when we have had that experience before after we overpaid for Pepe.
We cannot also ignore the fact that Maddison was not all that impressive after he came back from his injury, you can argue that he has not been quite the same. Odegaard on the other hand offer us what we can get from Maddison with a bit of security regarding his injury records and also will cost substantially less and would allow us to address so many other areas of the team that needs strengthening including backup keeper, a right back a CM and a striker if we lose either Lacazette or Eddie. It will represent a smart way to go about the rebuild. We are not a cash rich club who can afford to cast off a number of expensive flops and go for different ones every summer. Is true that every transfer is a risk but in our position we need to go in for transfers that have calculated risks.
In a nutshell, Maddison could be the novelist choice between him and Odegaard, but the latter represents the realest and the sharp-witted choice.
Arsenal enthusiast and writer from Ghana. Love all things Arsenal and football. Sharing is caring. This is an opportunity to share my opinion about the game with the rest of the world. Please would you spare some time and read what I have written and also feel free to comment what you think about it. Thanks!