Martin Odegaard is not guaranteed game time at Arsenal and will need to prove to Mikel Arteta that he is better than Emile Smith Rowe in order to fill a playmaking berth for the Gunners, says Nigel Winterburn.
As Mesut Ozil headed through the exits in north London, bringing a long-running saga surrounding his future to a close, Norway international Odegaard arrived in the opposite direction.
He has been taken on a short-term loan from Real Madrid, with that initial agreement set to take the 22-year-old through to the end of the season.
Odegaard arrives in north London boasting plenty of pedigree, having been a senior star since the age of 15, but the form of Smith Rowe could see his path blocked early on in English football.
Former Arsenal defender Winterburn has told FreeSuperTips of added competition for places: “Emile Smith-Rowe got his opportunityin the starting teamby chance. A lot of thingswere happeningat the football club, and suddenly, he was thrown into the team because certain playersweren’tavailable forselection.
“By bringing inMartinOdegaard, Mikel Arteta needs to be careful of how he integrates him with Emile Smith-Rowe.HeSmith-Rowehas come inandhadsucha huge impactinashort time, so Artetawon’twant to pull him out of the team.The managerwillwant a long-term project where Smith-Rowe progresses into becoming a star of the future for Arsenal.
“Odegaardcoming inincreases competition for places. Smith-Rowe is the starter now. If it’s a competition between him andOdegaard, thenOdegaard must prove in training that he’s better thanEmileSmith-Rowe. If not, Smith-Rowe will stay in the team.
“It’s an exciting time at Arsenal with three or four young players thatcouldbecome long-term,successfulplayers at the club.Players likeBukayoSaka, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli, among others could, over time, become quality Premier League players.”
While getting Odegaard onto their books, and already having Smith Rowe in place, there has been talk of Arsenal rekindling their interest in Lyon star Houssem Aouar over the summer.
Winterburn can appreciate why the rumour mill is ticking over, but admits there is plenty of risk to be found in any big-money deals.
He added: “Martin OdegaardandHoussemAouarare two players that have been linked with Arsenal for quite a while.Both would be described as creativemidfielders,which is a position that Arsenalhaslacked for some time.
Source : goal.com