After targeting a creative midfielder all summer Arsenal are set to to finally secure the transfer of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid.
The Norwegian, who will sign a five year contract for a fee believed to be in the region of €35million (£29.8million), will become the Gunners fourth signing of the window after Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares.
The success in acquiring him would seem to suggest that all hopes of signing one of Houssem Aouar or James Maddison are more or less over for now.
But Edu’s actions earlier on in the transfer window suggest that perhaps that isn’t necessarily the case.
It feels like a lifetime ago now, but back in June Arsenal were heavily linked with a move for Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia.
The Argentinian eventually ended up choosing Aston Villa, but the Gunners’ pursuit of him seemed to contrast with the public statements of Mikel Arteta.
On the final day of the 2020/21 season the Spaniard revealed his desire to keep Martin Odegaard in North London after the end of his loan spell from Real Madrid.
“We have a very clear and strong opinion on what we would like to do,” Arteta said.
“He’s not our player. We’ll have discussions in the next few weeks, but first of all we need to respect that he’s a Real Madrid player.
“We’ll have those communications. We’ve tried to make everything that we could to get Martin performing for the team, which I think he’s done.
“He has adapted really well to our way of playing and to our football. Hopefully we have given him the hope and the feeling this could be a good place for him.”
With the Gunners’ obvious desire to recruit Odegaard in mind it’s interesting to note how stylistically different the Norwegian is to Buendia, considering the club went in for both this summer.
The Argentinian is a pressing machine who excels at producing in the final third through playing higher risk passes, while Odegaard is more of a ball progressor from deep who rarely gives the ball away.
This would suggest that Arteta wants different types of creative players in his side to be able offer different solutions for his side in the final third, or in other words that he wants a much deeper squad.
The Spaniard will be fully aware that should something happen to one of Odegaard or Smith Rowe – both of whom suffered with injuries in the second half of last season – then Arsenal will once again be fully dependent on a sole player to carry the entirety of their creative burden.
The dangers of this were seen with sobering clarity on Friday night in the 2-0 defeat to Brentford as Smith Rowe bravely carried the Gunners’ offensive charge almost entirely on his own at times.
As Arsenal seek to qualify for European football again after missing out for the first time in 25 years last season, it is squad depth that will be key.
Rivals around them have strengthened impressively this summer.
Chelsea have recently added Romelu Lukaku to a Champions League winning squad, while Manchester City have signed Jack Grealish to improve a team that won the Premier League at a canter and Manchester United had the luxury of bringing Jadon Sancho on into a side that was already winning 5-1 in their season opener against Leeds.
The Gunners meanwhile are a long way off this level of depth and over a course of a 38-game season it’s unlikely that they will be able to compete without reinforcements.
Having now secured Odegaard’s signing there is a possibility that Arsenal could still be on the lookout for a player of a similar profile to Buendia.
Of course there are other areas that the Gunners want to target before the window closes on August 31.
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The transfer window is in full swing and things are beginning to ramp up with Edu and Mikel Arteta’s dealings at the Emirates.
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A back-up goalkeeper for Bernd Leno is a priority, with Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale being linked, while Edu could be on the look out for a right back and a centre forward if players like Hector Bellerin, Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette move on.
With this in mind a deal to secure another creative player seems unlikely.
But if Arsenal have genuine designs on competing at the top end of the table, like their owners claim, they will need a squad fit for purpose. Adding Maddison or Aouar to the signing of Odegaard would be an undoubted step in this direction.