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Is Martin Ødegaard threatening Real Madrid's youth system?

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

With all the hype during the past week about Martin Ødegaard debuting with Real Madrid Castilla, it's understandable that some of the regular Castilla players might be feeling a bit put out.  In particular, any of the Castilla players who play in Ødegaard's position or nearby in the midfield might be feeling a bit threatened by his presence; especially if Martin is also likely to be training with the first-team from time to time or potentially be in and out of the side depending on what Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane decide is best.

Sadly, though, a lot has been said and written about Ødegaard's salary in coming to Madrid and it doesn't take much for things to be said that may have been reported in not quite the way in which they were intended.  Real Madrid Castilla captain Sergio Aguza, also a midfield player and potentially one to feel threatened by the presence of the young Norwegian in the Castilla side, was quoted earlier in the week saying that he wished he earned what Ødegaard is reportedly being paid.  That quote may well have been blown out of all proportion at the time, but since then the Catalan midfielder's words have been lavished with considerable embellishment as the days have gone by; ranging from simple comments about the money to saying that the whole dressing-room is angry about Ødegaard's presence.

Sergio Aguza is one of the stalwarts of the current Castilla side; signed from Cornellà as a youth player and rising since to the under 19s and now to Real Madrid Castilla.  Aguza was given the captaincy by Zinedine Zidane, who sees his role in the midfield as very much the playmaker.  Other clubs have reportedly been interested in him for his vision and distribution, but Aguza remains very much committed to the Real Madrid / Castilla cause.  However, with the high-profile signing of Ødegaard, any comments coming out of the Castilla camp will be scrutinised by the media and any hint of anything that sounds remotely controversial will be immediately seized upon.   It's highly likely that each telling of a particular story  -  in this case Aguza talking about Ødegaard's reported salary  -  will have a bit added here and an extra bit there until the final tale bears no resemblance to what was actually said in the first place.

The actual quote from Sergio Aguza was in fact along the lines of what many a player would say in response to a question about a big-money signing joining the club.  "It isn't that it bothers me, but I'd also like to be up there and earning what they say he's getting".  Aguza went on to say that "We'll welcome him (Ødegaard) just like just one more player, like Markkanen or Abner, and try to make him fit in as well as possible".  No mention anywhere of dressing room revolts or angry players.  No mention of a revolt either when Madrid signed the two players Aguza referred to in his interview last week, Finnish international Eero Markkanen from AIK Stockholm or Abner from Coritiba in Brazil.  The implication in Ødegaard's case is that it is simply all about the money.

Martin Ødegaard, in all his interviews with the media, comes across as a quiet young man who simply wants to play football for whom he considers to be the best team in the world.  At such a young age, he will surely be embarrassed by all the fuss.  Talk of existing players not being happy will not help him to settle in at Real, and may even put a bit of a ‘downer' on his first few weeks in Madrid.  It's hard enough for young players to come in to a new club at the best of times, far less a club in a new country, so comments like this will not do much to make him feel welcome.  By now, however, any misunderstandings should have been cleared up as Ødegaard settles himself into his new club.  As captain of Castilla, Aguza was the obvious choice among the players for the media to seek an opinion from.  The young Catalan may well have found himself making a remark which he did not intend to sound as it did or be taken in the context into which it was placed.

Sergio Aguza has been at Madrid since joining as a youth in 2008; born in Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Aguza himself came to Madrid as a sixteen year old.  Having since progressed through the various levels of Madrid's youth development programme, he has risen through the ranks of the Castilla system.  Now at 22, Aguza captains the current Real Madrid Castilla side, but has yet to debut in Madrid's first team.  Martin Ødegaard will be another rival for a potential first-team place, but this is the way of football.  Aguza has chosen to stay in Madrid, despite reported interest from several clubs in La Liga who could offer him a first team football.  Zinedine Zidane values the contribution he makes to the team both on and off the field; and in that respect, Sergio Aguza has promised to welcome Ødegaard to Castilla, and help to settle him within the club.  Hopefully the quotes in the media will then be taken in the right context, and the pair will complement each other on the field.

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