Arsenal sign Odegaard from Real Madrid on permanent deal

By Sports Desk August 20, 2021

Arsenal have completed the signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a permanent deal for a reported fee of around £30million (€35.2m).

The Norway international, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Emirates Stadium, is thought to have agreed a four-year deal with the Premier League side.

Odegaard returned to parent club Madrid but was not part of their matchday squad for last week's 4-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on the opening weekend of the new LaLiga season.

Having been restricted to just eight league appearances for Los Blancos since joining in 2015, the majority of that time spent out on loan, the attacking midfielder has now departed the Spanish capital on a permanent basis.

Arsenal confirmed the news on their official website on Friday and the 22-year-old is now in contention for the Gunners' home league clash with Chelsea on Sunday.

Odegaard made 20 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal after joining on loan at the end of the January transfer window, 14 of those outings coming in the Premier League.

He scored one goal and provided two assists, while his 20 chances created was the most of any Arsenal player during his spell on loan, three more than Emile Smith Rowe.

The Stromsgodset product also ranked highly for dribbles completed, his tally of 13 in the league bettered only by Nicolas Pepe (14), Thomas Partey (15) and Bukayo Saka (18).

Odegaard becomes Arsenal's third signing of the window following the arrivals of Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ben White.

Mikel Arteta's side were beaten 2-0 by newly promoted Brentford in their first game of the campaign.

The 22 shots they registered without scoring against the Bees was their most without finding the net in a league match since December 2017 against West Ham (also 22).

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  • Conte's squad frustrations laid bare as Chelsea outclass Spurs again Conte's squad frustrations laid bare as Chelsea outclass Spurs again

    A big week now approaches for Tottenham – while no manager will ever admit to being happy about losing, Spurs' 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday may actually do Antonio Conte a favour.

    The Italian has hinted at his desire to bring in reinforcements this month. Until this point, Spurs have not given into his apparent demands, but another loss to Chelsea might force their hand.

    The last week of the transfer window is about to begin and there is every reason to think it could define Spurs' season given the clues on show at Stamford Bridge.

    This contest arguably lacked the usual lustre in the build-up given how recently they tussled in the EFL Cup, a two-legged semi-final that left the two clubs looking worlds apart.

    Even Conte himself was damning in his appraisal of their respective outlooks, suggesting there was no comparison between his side and the team that won the Champions League last season.

    Chelsea won their EFL Cup tie 3-0 on aggregate, thus Conte knew changes were going to be required here.

    He returned to his former club with a plan, but perhaps few expected him to go – for want of a better phrase – 'full Mourinho'.

    The 'Special One' built much of his reputation on being tough to beat, and Conte certainly made several decisions that were Jose Mourinho-esque, not least the fact he deployed full-backs in front of full-backs on the flank as the Italian seemingly set his side up to be functional rather than entertaining.

    That's not to say Chelsea didn't find some joy. Mason Mount proved a nuisance with his movement in the half spaces in attack, with Spurs struggling to pick him up as he seemed to fall outside of the jurisdiction of everyone in defence and midfield.

    That was evident as early as the first minute as his cross found Romelu Lukaku, who volleyed over – later, they combined in exactly the same way but the Belgium striker completely missed his kick.

    Eventually Spurs reacted to Mount's presence with another Mourinhoism, as Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg slotted in to plug the gap in that area, something Mourinho's central midfielders often used to do in his classic Chelsea sides that went with two banks of four.

    With Harry Kane accompanied by Steven Bergwijn in the Lucas Moura role up top, Spurs' grand plan was pretty clear as they hoped to be able to capitalise on any rare forays forward – it looked as though they had as well, with the Dutchman picking out the England captain to net just before half-time, only for the goal to be wiped out for a slight push on Thiago Silva.

    But there was seemingly an ulterior motive surrounding Conte's selection and tactics as well, as he appeared to be sending message to sporting director Fabio Paratici.

    Three viable and available central attacking players were completely left out, with Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso all missing – the latter even confirmed on social media that he was fit.

    Harvey White, still awaiting his Premier League debut, and Dane Scarlett, a 17-year-old, were selected ahead of them on the bench, with Conte's decisions here a not-so-subtle evaluation of the attacking midfielders available to him.

    The fact is, this came just two days after Conte said he hoped "the club will listen to me" regarding their transfer dealings before the end of the month – he didn't reveal what he had put across to his employers, though these exclusions were surely a hint at the very least.

    Given the options otherwise available to him – as in the players he trusts in midfield – Conte perhaps didn't actually have much of a choice to deploy this set-up.

    But can Spurs realistically hope to qualify for the Champions League with their only trusted central midfielders being Hojbjerg, Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp? You would think not, and certainly not on the evidence of this match, with Spurs barely laying a glove on Chelsea bar the disallowed Kane goal as the hosts were allowed to control the midfield.

    Of course, it's worth saying Spurs were also a little unfortunate. Whichever way you look at it, the disallowing of Kane's goal was harsh, and Hakim Ziyech's gorgeous opener was a moment of magic. 

    Silva's second was controversial as well because the foul that was awarded from which Mount set up the Brazilian appeared to be questionable.

    Yet even if they had still been within touching distance of Chelsea heading into the latter stages, a quick glance at the benches showed an incredible gulf in talent available to the managers.

    There's a lot of work to be done with Spurs' squad and the next week could make or break their season.

  • 'It was important to him' – Napoli captain Insigne matches Maradona goal haul 'It was important to him' – Napoli captain Insigne matches Maradona goal haul

    Lorenzo Insigne moved alongside Diego Maradona on Napoli's all-time list of leading goalscorers after hitting his 115th goal for the Serie A club.

    The Italy international converted a penalty early in the second half of Sunday's 4-1 derby win against Salernitana.

    That meant he joined Maradona in a tie for third place in the Napoli record books.

    Dries Mertens heads that list and slotted a penalty just before half-time to give Napoli a 2-1 lead, his 144th goal for the club.

    Belgium international Mertens stepped aside to allow Insigne to take responsibility for the second spot-kick in the 53rd minute.

    Insigne had come on as a substitute for the start of the second half, and Mertens said: "I left the second penalty to Lorenzo because it was important to him."

    Writing on Instagram after the match, Insigne expressed his delight at the victory.

    He will leave at the end of the season to join Toronto FC, but the 30-year-old insisted he would always hold the club dear.

    "The derbies are not played… they are won…. We continue like this until the end," Insigne wrote. "Always and forever FORZA NAPOLI."

    Insigne is now six goals behind second-placed Marek Hamsik on the Napoli goalscoring list.

    The late Argentina legend Maradona remains the greatest and most revered player in Napoli's history, having joined from Barcelona in 1984 and spent seven years in Naples.

    He helped Napoli win league titles in 1986-87 and 1989-90 – the only Serie A championships the club have won – and his death in November sparked an outpouring of grief in the city.

    Sunday's goal was Insigne's sixth goal of the season across all competitions, with Napoli's win moving them just four points behind Serie A leaders Inter.

    Mertens believes Napoli can still push Inter hard for the title, saying on the club's website: "We must continue like this and look only at us. The championship is still long and we can be protagonists."

  • Ancelotti: Small details cost Madrid in dramatic Elche draw Ancelotti: Small details cost Madrid in dramatic Elche draw

    Carlo Ancelotti suggested "small details" cost Real Madrid in a 2-2 draw with Elche that required a spirited late recovery.

    The LaLiga leaders missed the chance to move six points clear at the top of the table as they were held by their 15th-placed opponents, who took a surprise 2-0 lead at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    After Luka Modric's penalty gave them hope – his first spot-kick for Madrid after Karim Benzema, who earlier missed from 12 yards for the first time in LaLiga, went off injured – it took a stoppage-time header from Eder Militao to spare Madrid's blushes and extend their year-long unbeaten home run in the Spanish top flight.

    While Madrid were waiting to discover the extent of Benzema's injury, Ancelotti said he was disappointed with the manner in which Elche scored – netting twice away at Madrid for the first time since January 1989.

    But the coach was at least encouraged by his team's response, remaining unbeaten against Elche since 1978, having now scored at least two in 10 of the 12 games in that span.

    "They scored a goal with a centre. For the second goal, we could have been more compact," Ancelotti said. "They are small details that have cost us two points

    "We are not happy, but there are many things we have to consider. 

    "We conceded two goals and we reacted well. Usually these games are lost, but it speaks very well of the squad."

    There are 11 days until Madrid return to action when they face Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, 12 days before taking on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

    "We have a small break, and we arrive well-positioned in all three competitions," Ancelotti added. "That's what we wanted to do. 

    "We are there, now comes the most important period of the season."

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