In football, rejection often closes that particular chapter. Clubs won’t continue to their pursuit if a player has made it clear they aren’t keen on the move. Sometimes it’s to do with pride. Other times it’s because the world of football moves fast and teams can’t wait around on the off chance a mind is changed. Liverpool, however, are one of the few teams who seem to leave the door slightly ajar if a move doesn’t materialise first-time around.
Countless players have turned down moves to Anfield in favour of signing elsewhere yet a few months down the line they’re named as a potential transfer target for the Reds yet again. It happened with Ousmane Dembele, Julian Brandt, Christian Pulisic and, to an extent, Mohamed Salah.
With the exception of Salah on that list, all of the players were linked post-Jurgen Klopp’s appointment. There’s clearly a pool of talent Michael Edwards and the recruitment team keep tabs on to weigh up whether there’s a chance to make a deal happen. If there’s a pool that pre-dates the German’s appointment, there’s going to be one name flashing up on Edwards’ laptop.
While he’s not been linked by the media recently, his performances over the last 18 months will have no doubt been enough to catch the eyes of many on Merseyside.
Fans will remember the 20-year-old from 2014. He had a trial with Liverpool, as well as many other of Europe’s elite, before ultimately settling on a move to Real Madrid. A boyhood Red, Odegaard couldn’t resist the lure of the Santiago Bernabeu and signed a six-year deal with the club in January 2015. In the process became the first-ever Norweigan to play for Los Blancos.
He was tipped to be the next big thing but his journey to the top took a little detour.
His Real Madrid career started off positively. In May of 2015, he became the youngest ever debutant for the club. He came off the bench to replace Cristiano Ronaldo during a 7-3 victory over Getafe in LaLiga.
But then he had to wait until November 2016 to make his debut for the first-team, in a Copa del Rey match. He was a regular for the Castilla team and according to reports, after he settled and started learning Spanish, his performances impressed.
But football doesn’t wait for anybody.
The 2016/17 season saw Marco Asensio announce himself to the Madrid faithful. The Spanish playmaker dazzled in his debut season for the European champions. Zinedine Zidane’s outfit also went out and signed Dani Ceballos to bolster their attacking ranks.
Then Vinícius Júnior arrived in the summer of 2018. Compatriot Rodrygo joined this summer. With every passing season, Ødegaard’s path into the Real Madrid first-team becomes even more difficult.
However, just because he’s not pushing Kylian Mbappe or Joao Felix for the best player under the age of 22 title doesn’t mean he’s not an exciting talent.
The 16-cap Norway International spent 18 months in the Eredivisie on loan with SC Heerenveen. Life in Holland didn’t get off to the best of starts for him and he found himself on the bench at one point. But he showed great resilience to force his way back into the starting XI.
He did enough to impress Eredivisie outfit Vitesse. He joined them on a season’s long loan ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. It’s safe to say it was a wise move for all parties.
Vitesse finished fifth and are into the Europa League play-offs while Odegaard enjoyed his best ever season. The 20-year-old lead the way with assists (10), he was involved in the most goals for the Eredivisie side (18), he created the most chances (110) and completed the most dribbles (87).
He was instrumental for Leonid Slutsky’s side.
His form resulted in Ajax showing an interest but it was Real Sociedad who landed the Real Madrid starlet on loan. He’s adapted to life in La Liga with relative ease and is already impressing.
Could marry this Martin Odegaard assist pic.twitter.com/HTveGyYKyZ
— Si Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) September 26, 2019
Odegaard is pulling the strings for La Real. On average, he’s creating 0.33 big chances per 90. He’s completing close to 60% of the 4.5 dribbles he attempts and he’s just a general goal threat. He’s progressive on the ball, averaging 3.1 key passes per 90, and plays close to 30% of his passes forward despite often finding himself in advanced areas. It shows he’s incisive and positive, the sort to help unlock teams prepared to sit deep.
With Real Madrid stacked in midfield and attack, it’s unlikely Odegaard is ever given an opportunity there. Still only 20, he’s young enough to be grafted into whatever a top manager wants him to be but experienced enough to not be making the sloppy mistakes usually associated with a player of his age.
He’s an intriguing option and one Liverpool will no doubt be keeping a close eye on. If he develops as expected, he could be something of a wildcard link over the next few months.