Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard looks set to complete a loan move to Arsenal in the coming days, putting an end to the club’s search for a new attacking midfielder. The 22-year-old is said to be very close to formally joining the Gunners, who have been crying out for additional creativity in the middle of the park all season.
Odegaard has grown frustrated with a lack of playing time under Zinedine Zidane after making just seven appearances in all competitions since the start of the campaign.
It became clear that a loan move was the best course of action for Real, but it was initially thought he could return to Real Sociedad, where he spent the 2019/20 season.
However, the club’s manager Imanol Alguacil ruled his side out of the running earlier this week.
“I don’t think that was an option at any time,” Alguacil told reporters. “Clearly, with everything that he showed [here], what a good player he is, the team would grow even more, but at no time has there been any possibility that he would return here.”
As Odegaard’s Arsenal switch draws nearer, speculation has arisen over the number the Norwegian midfielder will sport on the back of his shirt for the duration of his stay.
His preferred number is 21, which he wore during his spell at Real Sociedad last season before donning the same shirt at Real upon his return.
For the first time in over a decade, Arsenal’s number 10 jersey is available for a new signing to claim after the departure of previous occupant Mesut Ozil earlier in the month.
William Gallas was the last player to land the iconic number upon arrival, with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Robin van Persie being handed the shirt while already at the club.
Odegaard is likely to be next in line with the number 10 directly corresponding to his preferred position at the tip of the midfield.
Another option for the 20-year-old could be the number 11, which was freed up by Lucas Torreira’s departure at the beginning of the season.
In football, the shirt is traditionally given to an attacker, chiefly a winger, but no Arsenal forwards have worn it in recent years.
The number is steeped in history with Ian Wright and Marc Overmars among the finest Gunners players ever to fill the shirt.
Odegaard’s preferred choice of 21 is currently unavailable, with defender Calum Chambers having sported the number since 2017.
This could lead the midfielder to opt for the number 26 shirt, the lowest available option between 20 and 30.
Former occupants include hot-tempered midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong and infamous striker Nicklas Bendtner.
It remains to be seen which number Odegaard will decide upon ahead of his debut in Arsenal colours.
It has been suggested that the playmaker may be forced into a short spell on the sidelines upon his arrival in north London, with reports in Spain claiming that he is struggling with a minor knee injury.