Martin Ødegaard has been one of the stars of the Premier League season. There is a good case to be made that he is the player of the season so far, due to his attacking exploits for Arsenal. Impressively, he is the leader of the Gunners’ title challenge after taking the captain’s armband last season. At the age of 24, he is emerging as one of the best players in Europe and living up to the hype around him as a teenager.
At the age of 15, he made his professional debut in Norway and there was a scrap for his signature. Real Madrid were the ultimate winners, but Arsenal, Liverpool, Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich were all credited with an interest. Ødegaard took the long road to the Emirates Stadium, but he won’t change any part of his journey as it has led him to his current position.
Loan spells at Heerenveen, Vitesse, Real Sociedad and Arsenal were key in his development. He played a handful of matches for Real Madrid, but it looked impossible for him to become a fixture in the first team. Ødegaard chose to make his loan to Arsenal permanent in the summer of 2021 and that has led to his breakthrough.
This season, Ødegaard has contributed eight goals and five assists in the Premier League. It would be surprising if he didn’t reach ten for both by the end of the campaign.
The Norwegian international has already beaten his return for both goals and assists from last season, when he contributed seven goals and four assists. There has been a marked improvement in his end product this season, with the attacks flowing through him.
As well as his actual returns, the underlying numbers speak of an improvement and increased role for Ødegaard. Last season, he averaged 0.42 expected goal involvements (xG + xAG) per ninety minutes. This has increased to 0.62 in the 2022/23 campaign. His average of 5.1 shot creating actions per ninety minutes has maintained at a consistent level with a very minor drop from 5.14 last season.
Ødegaard was viewed as a creative player when he was signed. He was signed to replace Mesut Ozil, as the main playmaker in attack. Although he has added this, there has been an impressive eye for goal that will please Mikel Arteta. This has been one of his key improvements during this season, as his shot volume has increased. Last season, he averaged 1.71 shots per ninety minutes. This has increased to 2.85 in the current campaign.
His aggressive positioning on the pitch has helped him increase his shot volume. Ødegaard is averaging 2.97 touches in the opposition penalty area per ninety minutes. This places him in the 94th percentile among attacking midfielders.
There is no doubting that Ødegaard is an elite attacking midfielder now, with many of his metrics ranking in the 99th percentile for his position. This includes goals, xG, xAG and shot creating actions.
It has been an excellent piece of recruitment from Arsenal, as Martin Ødegaard has come into the squad and emerged as a leader for the youthful team. His influence on and off the pitch is evident.
Regardless of how the season finishes for Arsenal, Ødegaard is now one of the best players in the Premier League and he is showing that on a consistent basis.