Arsenal’s hopes of keeping Martin Odegaard at the club have taken a decisive blow with new Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti ready to welcome him back into the fold, according to reports.
The Norwegian playmaker did not get a look in under previous manager Zinedine Zidane and was shipped out on loan in January where he thrived under Mikel Arteta’s watch at the Emirates.
Odegaard signed off the season with back-to-back assists in the final two games of the campaign, against Crystal Palace and Brighton, and Arsenal had hoped to secure either a permanent deal or another loan.
But Ancelotti’s return to the Bernabeu has effectively ended those plans, with Spanish newspaper ABC reporting that Odegaard will definitely be part of Real’s first-team squad next season.
Although there are doubts over a number of fringe players and loanees – such as Brahim Diaz and Luka Jovic – Odegaard’s place in the Real squad is ‘assured’.
Ancelotti has already discussed transfer targets with Real’s hierarchy and wants to bring in a new forward and centre-back, but additions in midfield are not required because he trusts Odegaard.
The new Real Madrid boss actually name-checked Odegaard at his first press conference, suggesting he sees the 22-year-old as a key part of his squad going forward.
Speaking at his unveiling, Ancelotti said: "With this squad, without loan players like Gareth Bale, Odegaard and Dani Ceballos, Madrid reached the Champions League semis and fought for La Liga. So we have the players to win trophies."
Ancelotti was actually in charge of Real when Odegaard was first signed as a 15-year-old, though the Italian coach spoke rather disparagingly about the youngster’s arrival in his book, Quiet Leadership, and may have some bridges to build.
"When Florentino buys a Norwegian footballer, you simply have to accept it. Furthermore, the president decided that he would play three games with the first team as a public relations exercise."
"He could be the best player in the world, but I don’t care because he was not a player who I asked for. That signing was to do with PR."
Ancelotti very briefly got a glimpse of Odegaard up close this past season in Everton’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, with the midfielder coming off the bench for a short cameo but he was unable to spark a turnaround.