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Martin Odegaard: Vitesse’s commanding midfielder

A deeper look at the Norwegians recent spell in the Netherlands and what might come of his future.

Bulgaria v Norway - UEFA Nations League C Photo by Trond Tandberg/Getty Images

Here at Managing Madrid, we have made it a priority to follow the budding careers of some of Real Madrid’s players on loan, one of which is Martin Odegaard.

After following the Norwegian international for a couple years now, it was about time that we took a look at his talents beyond our Loan Tracker series and dived deep into his recent matches, abilities and possible future.

Back in 2015, Odegaard made his initial move to Spain after leaving Stromsgodset and joining Real Madrid Castilla. Flash forward to the 2016/2017 season and he was sent out on his first loan spell in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen where it was hoped he would branch out. And he did exactly that.

As of today, Odegaard, 20, finds himself playing for his second Dutch team while on loan as a Madrid player, Vitesse Arnhem. The Norwegian midfielder has eight goals and six assists to his name in only 31 appearances and is improving so much on his game that he has become a commanding officer on the pitch.

Before the teams match against FC Utrecht last Sunday afternoon, Vitesse was sitting in seventh place with 43 points and came to the Stadion Galgenwaard looking to edge themselves one step closer to a possible playoff spot. This match was very important for both teams.

Right from the first whistle, the audience knew Odegaard had winning on his mind. He became a force to be reckoned with within his own squad and in the eyes of his opponents by moving fluidly between the right wing and centre midfield.

It was through positioning himself in these roles that he easily became Vitesse’s commanding player. By playing so centrally it look as though he was nothing else but a small gust of wind weaving in between players.

No matter what was going on for Vitesse, Odegaard was there to pick up the pieces and resettle the team. This demonstrated that even as one of the younger players on the team, he knew when he needed to step up.

But while his movement added to the teams approach, it was simply not enough, Odegaard found it within himself to gave much more to the game on a technical level.

Whether he was in charge of taking the corners (on either side), the free-kicks or setting up his teammates for an attempt on goal, his subtle passes and soft retouches were key to the fluidity of Vitesse.

He alone had the most completed dribbles on the field out of all 22 players by a mile (11) and as the scoreline continued to read 0-0, he took it upon himself to try and break the deadlock by having four shots on goal, the most of any Vitesse player.

In addition to his leadership and technical skills, his ability to manoeuvre and track quick turnovers helped keep his side invested in the match and helped him express his own style.

There was even a few nutmegs here and there for fans to enjoy.

Against FC Utrecht, Odegaard made sure that every move on the pitch passed through him at least once (even the injury team looked for his approval before tending to players) and proved to be a commanding player who was constantly three steps ahead of the play.

Over the 90 minutes played in Utrecht, Odegaard gave lot for both fans and coaches to admire, including the ones at Real Madrid.

As the football season comes to a close, Florentino Perez will and his colleagues will have to figure out whether Odegaard remains on loan or comes back to Spain.

Of course the most ideal option would be to forget about Vitesse and move Odegaard back to the Santiago Bernabeu but another season on loan would only boost his development as a player, even if it was only half a season.

Plus with the amount of attacking options Zinedine Zidane has, Odegaard probably would make it in the starting line up right away with Modric, Kroos, Isco, Brahim Diaz, Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos already there.

The most profitable decision in this scenario would probably be to keep him out on loan but move him to a bigger club where he can take the last few steps in his development for another half season at least.

Whether that be in the Netherlands or in Spain does not really matter, but the talent that this young midfielder demonstrates (as shown against FC Utrecht), needs to be nurtured so he can have a proper re-appearance in the white jersey.

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