Cristiano Ronaldo has seen some of modern football’s greatest talents rise and fall, and the ex-Manchester United hero was on the money when predicting how Martin Odegaard’s career would go.
Arsenal star Martin Odegaard is enjoying exactly the kind of “good future” which Cristiano Ronaldo predicted that he’d have eight years ago.
Long before becoming Arsenal’s captain and signing a new five-year contract on Friday, Odegaard was Ronaldo’s team-mate at Real Madrid, spending two years directly alongside him before a series of loan spells. The Norwegian was still a teenage wonderkid, having spent time training with both Liverpool and Manchester City as a bidding war began over his sought-after signature.
Odegaard chose to join Ronaldo at the Bernabeu in January 2015 and while he struggled for regular game-time, he did manage to impress the Portuguese megastar with his talent and personality. During an interview with BT Sport in November 2015, Ronaldo named the now Gunners captain as one of five future stars to look out for in the future.
“I will mention Martin Odegaard of Madrid for example, at 16 he’s still young but you can see he’s a very good player,” the ex-Manchester United hero declared. “He’s a great player, I think he’s a young boy, he can still grow.
“He has a good future ahead. We must give him time to learn, to take his best decisions. But I see a lot of potential in the player, he has got a good left foot.”
Ask Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and he’ll be in full agreement, having worked hard to bring Odegaard back to the Emirates on a permanent basis following a promising if unspectacular half-season loan spell in 2021. The Norway international is now the fulcrum of Arteta’s attack, but once he was still a shy 16-year-old signing for the biggest club in the world, where Ronaldo helped him settle in.
In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Odegaard described his thoughts when arriving in Madrid by saying: “All I’m thinking is about how these guys will treat me when I walk into their dressing room. This little kid who didn’t speak any Spanish.
“But they were all very kind and the ones who spoke English – [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric, Ronaldo – took extra care of me in the beginning. They gave me advice and helped me a lot. But, honestly, I don’t think any of them were particularly worried about a 16-year-old from Norway taking their place in the team.”
Now Arsenal’s youngsters and fringe players are the ones with the almighty task of dislodging Odegaard from Arteta’s starting lineup, with the creative midfielder hoping to produce another marvellous performance in Sunday’s North London Derby clash at home to fierce rivals Tottenham. As for the bigger picture, there’s one goal in mind: trophies.
“I am thinking about it. That is the big dream, the big goal, to win things with the club,” Odegaard stated as his new long-term deal was announced on Friday. “That’s why I have signed here as well, because I believe we can achieve some great things. That’s the big goal and I am sure if we work hard, we can get to something really nice.”