Arsenal are interested in bringing Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard to the Emirates on loan this month, the playmaker having long been liked by the north London outfit. Odegaard wants to leave the Bernabeu on a temporary basis as he goes in search of regular playing time elsewhere.
The Gunners have made it clear that they would be interested in bringing the 22-year-old’s talents to the Premier League on a six-month loan.
Real Sociedad are said to be interested in bringing Odegaard back to the Anoeta after he produced seven goals and nine assists in 36 games on loan there last season.
But Spanish outlet Sport suggest that Arsenal are ‘very close’ to agreeing a deal for the Norway international, who has only played nine times for Real Madrid this term.
Odegaard’s arrival would help give Arsenal extra quality in the final third with an attacking midfielder top of their January wishlist.
Lyon’s Houssem Aouar is too expensive while Norwich will not let Emiliano Buendia leave, and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt is also going nowhere this month.
And only having to pay Odegaard’s wages could suit Arsenal perfectly and tide them over until they look to land a long-term addition in the No 10 role in the summer transfer window.
But how could Mikel Arteta line up if the Londoners do complete a mid-season switch for Odegaard? Express Sport takes a look.
Arsenal boss Arteta has predominantly set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, albeit occasionally switching to a back three in a 3-4-3, this season.
While Emile Smith Rowe has performed superbly in the No 10 role, as he did in the 3-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night, Odegaard’s arrival would likely make him the favourite to play that position.
Smith Rowe is capable of playing out wide but Arteta has made it clear he prefers to utilise the academy graduate through the middle.
Bukayo Saka has established himself as the go-to right-sided forward of late so he would play on one side of Odegaard with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the other, with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line.
Nicolas Pepe, Willian, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli are then among the manager’s options in reserve.
Thomas Partey would partner Granit Xhaka in midfield, with Dani Ceballos a rotation option, while Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin are the first-choice full-backs.
Arteta has an abundance of options in central defence but Rob Holding seems to be his No 1 on the right side while Gabriel Magalhaes should start more games than Pablo Mari and David Luiz on his left. Bernd Leno is the starting goalkeeper.
Arsenal XI with Odegaard (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tierney, Gabriel, Holding, Bellerin; Xhaka, Partey; Aubameyang, Odegaard, Saka; Lacazette.
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Arteta has yet to use the 4-3-3 formation he was expected to implement when he left his job as Pep Guardiola’s No 2 at Manchester City to return to Arsenal.
But he might look at Chelsea’s 4-3-3 set-up – although it has not been a roaring success – for inspiration if he wants to get both Odegaard and Smith Rowe into the team while keeping both centrally.
Just as Chelsea have done with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount ahead of N’Golo Kante, Arsenal could deploy the two attack-minded midfielders with Partey to shield the back four behind them.
Smith Rowe works hard off the ball and so in a similar way to Mount would be able to do his defensive duties as well as influencing the game in possession.
The back-line would be much the same as with a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Saka, Lacazette and Aubameyang would likely take up the starting roles in the front three.
It would be an attack-heavy line-up but for matches in which Arsenal are expected to dominate the ball and are asked to break down an organised opposition defence, it could be an option.
Arsenal XI with Odegaard (4-3-3): Leno; Tierney, Gabriel, Holding, Bellerin; Partey, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang, Saka, Lacazette.
A formation Arteta still falls back to on occasion, it is harder to see where Odegaard might fit if Arsenal only line up with two central midfielders.
Whether he could show the defensive discipline to avoid Partey being overrun remains to be seen and so if the Spanish coach was to line up in such a system, Odegaard may end up being shunted out wide.
The right flank is not unfamiliar territory for the 22-year-old, who played the bulk of his games there when on loan at Heerenveen and Vitesse in the Eredivisie.
For the latter, Odegaard scored eight goals and supplied nine assists in the 30 matches in which he was deployed on the right-hand side as a winger in a 4-3-3 or a midfielder in a 4-4-2.
A 3-4-3 would however leave both Smith Rowe and Saka out, and so is an unlikely formation for Arteta to use often if Odegaard does join.
Elsewhere, if Arteta were lining up with Arsenal’s strongest XI, there wouldn’t be too many changes from the aforementioned starting elevens, with David Luiz perhaps coming in at the heart of defence.
Arsenal XI with Odegaard (3-4-3): Leno; Gabriel, Luiz, Holding; Bellerin, Partey, Xhaka, Tierney; Aubameyang, Saka, Odegaard.