REAL MADRID

Martin Ødegaard, Real Madrid's sole summer 'signing'

The Norwegian joins Madrid's first team squad five years after signing for the club. In that time, his market value has multiplied by 11, from 4 million euros to 45 million.

Just a few minutes into Real Madrid's first training session of the pre-season out on practice pitch No.1 in Valdebebas, all eyes were on a blond player who stood out, even while the rest of the squad were spread out to conform with Covid-19 protocol. "He's got the makings of a top player," commented one veteran member of staff, who remembers perfectly well when Martin Ødegaard had only just signed for the club and later when he became the youngest player to debut for Real Madrid in LaLiga under Carlo Ancelotti. That was in May 2015 when the Norwegian came on for Cristiano Ronaldo in a meeting with Getafe when he was 16 years and 156 days old. A lot has changed for Ødegaard since then. Five years ago he was a precocious youngster with a lot to prove. Today he is one of the most admired midfielders in LaLiga.

Market valued multiplied by 11

In January 2015, Real Madrid fought off Bayern Munich and Arsenal to land the promising young 16-year-old. They paid just four million for Ødegaard, but also had to pay him a salary of half that amount after tax. Today, according to Transfermarkt he is worth 45 million. Ødegaard is the only 'signing' a Madrid side in the process of transition plan to make this summer - the only new face in the project which has been conditioned by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis in which the club's priority has shifted onto selling players rather than buying new ones to ensure the club remains in the black or at least financially stable.

There is no doubt that Ødegaard is now ready to make the next step and play for Madrid's first team. He was the best midfielder in LaLiga last season, gaining 62% of the votes, and was the player to have been most involved in all of the goals scored during his season-long loan at Real Sociedad; he was also the player to have successfully completed the most passes in rival penalty areas. He scored seven goals and set up another nine... His figures last term were not too dissimilar to those of Toni Kroos. His average ball recovery rate - one ball recovered every 15 minutes was only just short of Kroos' (one every 14 minutes); in shots on goal (one every 49 minutes compared to one every 42 minutes'), attempts on goal (Kroos 128, Ødegaard 134) and chances created (Kroos 32 and Ødegaard 36) - similar figures and better than those registered by Luka Modric and Fede Valverde.

Now 21, Ødegaard has completed four full seasons playing in the elite - two with Heerenveen, one with Vitesse and one in Spain with Real Sociedad. It was out on the practice pitches in Zubieta where he found the perfect place to develop his game. He even would have liked another season out on loan at La Real, where he was given a high number of games (he made 36 appearances under Imanol Alguacil). But Madrid's plans were suddenly changed by the team's elimination from the Champions League and the coronavirus crisis. Now Zidane will manage the transition period as Modric gradually hands over the position and makes way for the young Norwegian.

Odegaard, en Valdebebas.

Martin is ready for Madrid

"Ødegaard is almost like a robot; he's ready to play for Real Madrid," his old coach at Vitesse Leonid Slutski said recently. The midfielder has built up muscle tone  by following a strict training regime. This summer, while his team mates were relaxing on the beach, he was working out in the Sierra Nevada.

If there is one person who has been hugely important in Ødegaard's career, it's the player's father. Madrid even handed him a coaching post in the youth academy when Martin first arrived. Hans Erik has taken it upon himself to ensure his son gets a proper football education and adopts a strong work ethic - two attributes which are vital at a club like Real Madrid. "There are three key factors - train hard, train well and made sure you follow the right path. And Martin has done all of that…" he said when his son made his international debut for NorwayØdegaard has now made 22 appearances for the national team. Five years on from realising his dream of signing for Real Madrid, Ødegaard is now a reality for Zidane.