It's been all about rumours this past week and a lot of them have been about Martin Odegaard. Real Madrid's highly rated young midfield player turned in an outstanding performance for Norway against Sweden last week; and now it seems that just about every club in Europe is keen to have him on loan next season.
Odegaard made his first team debut for Real Madrid in the final game of last season against Getafe. Although currently playing in the ‘B' team, Real Madrid Castilla, it's been reported that Real Betis and Villareal are particularly keen to have Odegaard on loan; and now Glasgow Celtic are reported to be interested in taking the young Norwegian to Scotland.
Celtic's Norwegian coach Ronny Deila, who coached Odegaard at Stromsgodset a couple of years ago, actually made a last-minute attempt to sign Odegaard for the Glasgow club a few days before he signed for Madrid. Now that it appears Real Madrid would prefer young Martin to be playing in a first team at a more competitive level than Castilla next season, not surprisingly Celtic's interest has become public once again and a repeat invitation could be extended by Ronny Deila for Martin Odegaard to join Celtic on loan.
Whether Rafa would be keen for the young Norwegian to move to Glasgow, however, is another matter.
It's already been well publicised that Odegaard will be joining the Madrid first team squad for the pre-season training period and will be included in the travelling party for the pre-season games in Australia and China in July.
The involvement in pre-season training with the main squad was apparently included in the deal when Martin signed for Madrid last year and there's no doubt that this is with the long-term view to him becoming part of the Real Madrid first-team set-up. However, he's not had the easiest of introductory seasons to Spanish football so far, and has been left out of the Real Madrid Castilla side on occasion by coach Zinedine Zidane.
Additionally, references in the press to Odegaard's reported salary made by Castilla's captain Sergio Aguzo didn't seem to suggest that Martin was going to be welcomed to Castilla with open arms at the time; although it's always difficult to properly assess quotes. Unless you are actually there in person to hear the actual tone of voice and able to gauge whether any comments made are tongue-in-cheek or suggestive of a more serious nature, it's hard to be 100% definite about the interpretation in these situations.
It was also mentioned towards the end of the season that with Carlo Ancelotti frequently including Odegaard in first team training sessions with Madrid, integration with his Castilla team mates was difficult and that relationships became strained a little. Training with the Madrid first team for a large part of the week and then playing with Castilla at the weekend didn't help either when it came to fitting into Zidane's approach to tactics and teamwork on matchdays either.
When all these factors are added together, plus Castilla's failure to earn promotion from the regionalised Segunda ‘B', which is Spain's third tier of the league set-up, young Martin could perhaps justifiably think that actually signing for Real Madrid was the easy part. An interim move on loan to another club where he could flourish in somebody else's first team for a season two might actually turn out to be a good option and he could then return to Madrid older, wiser, and more experienced.
Real Betis coach Pepe Mel is reported to be keen on taking Martin Odegaard on loan, and with the Sevilla club expected to complete the signing of former Real Madrid player Rafael van der Vaart early next week, there will at least be an ‘old head' to look after Martin if they both turn out in the Betis midfield next season.
The Betis interest has been common knowledge for some time so at least that option is a little bit more than just a rumour but we'll just need to wait and see.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had words of advice for Martin after the Swedish game last week, telling him that he needs to distance himself more in a footballing sense from his father, who is also now coaching in Madrid, and feels that he if he is going to progress as a player then he needs to start making more decisions of his own.
It can't be easy with everyone offering their own bits of advice no matter how well-intentioned these may be, and Martin Odegaard will be quickly finding out that everyone has their own opinion about what is best for him. I think this is what Zlatan really meant when he told him to become more independent as far as his footballing career goes and to make his own decisions regarding his career development.
However, at sixteen years old that's easier said than done and this is when you are looking to the experienced people at the club such as Zinedine Zidane, Sergio Ramos, Iker et al to come forward and offer some advice based on their own experiences, together with those of the management team, if they've not already done so.
It's an important decision to make, and if Martin does go on loan somewhere, then it needs to be to the right club and to one that will aid his football development. That's when he really does need the input from people around him who can help him to make the right choice.