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Arsenal hopeful of beating Sociedad in race to loan Ødegaard from Real Madrid

Nick Ames
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP</span>
Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Arsenal are pushing to sign the Real Madrid playmaker Martin Ødegaard on loan for the rest of the season, with optimism growing there that they will beat Real Sociedad to his signature.

Ødegaard has been made available for a short-term transfer and would, at least until the summer, provide a high-quality solution to Mikel Arteta’s shortage of creative options. Sociedad, with whom he enjoyed an excellent loan season in 2019-20, are keen for his return but Arsenal hope he will opt for a complete change of scenery.

Related: Arteta turns focus to Arsenal signings after shedding unwanted players

Although there is plenty to be done before Ødegaard’s arrival is close, the 22-year-old’s signing would hold significant intrigue given he has shown clear signs of realising the promise that led him to join Madrid at 16.

He has featured only nine times in Spain this season, along with appearances for Norway, and would provide a valuable option for an Arsenal side who have become increasingly reliant on Emile Smith Rowe’s attacking midfield performances in recent weeks.

Arteta had been tight-lipped when asked on Thursday about any interest in pursuing Ødegaard.

Arsenal confirmed a different loan signing on Friday, with the goalkeeper Mat Ryan joining from Brighton for the remainder of the campaign. Arteta had been seeking experienced cover for Bernd Leno, lacking since Emiliano Martínez departed for Aston Villa in September, and moved quickly when it became clear Ryan was available.

Ryan, an Australia international and boyhood Arsenal fan, has made 123 appearances for Brighton since joining from Genk in 2017 but was dropped by Graham Potter after the 3-0 defeat at Leicester on 13 December. It was made clear that Robert Sánchez would be Potter’s first choice from thereon so Ryan will hope to carve out a niche at Arsenal. He is available for the FA Cup fourth-round tie at Southampton on Saturday.

Arteta was given room for manoeuvre in the transfer market after Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Özil, whose move to Fenerbahce is imminent, were released from their contracts. He admitted lessons needed to be learned from a situation that saw two experienced internationals frozen out of his first-team squad while earning sizeable wages – in Özil’s case about £350,000 a week.

“You don’t want to get into this position again, that’s for sure,” he said. “Not for the player, not for the club. But it’s happening more and more at every club. I think you have to have that communication open to prevent it as much as possible and, if it happens, just make a decision and don’t try to delay a situation that is not working for much longer.”

He explained Arsenal had sought a quicker resolution to the deadlock around both players. “We tried to resolve those situations early in the summer, to try and avoid what [happened], but sometimes it’s not possible as well,” he said. “This transfer window and the previous one were really complicated and we have a responsibility with those players and have to respond to our obligations. That’s what we did until the moment we found a solution.”