Mikel Arteta has said that the summer signing of Martin Odegaard has a key role to play in bringing leadership to his young Arsenal squad.
Odegaard signed a permanent contract with Real Madrid last month, having spent the second half of last season on loan at the Emirates.
The Norwegian was one of six newcomers to London Colney, all aged 23 or under, while academy graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe – aged 20 and 21 – are already figureheads of the team.
The lack of leadership in the dressing room has been a criticism leveled at Arsenal sides for several years and with the departures of David Luiz and Hector Bellerin this summer, Arteta has lost two of his oldest personalities.
However, the Spaniard cited Odegaard and his newborn compatriot Albert Sambi Lokonga as examples of players who have the experience to progress, despite their age.
“I think we are building some leadership in the group,” Arteta said. “It’s a very young group, with a lot of players under 23.
“Martin is the captain of the national team and Sambi was the captain in Anderlecht.
“Martin has this ability to do it with his talent, taking the ball in times when others probably won’t, but also with his attitude, his pace and the way he squeezes and puts people under pressure.”
Arteta also praised Odegaard for his defensive work in the Gunners’ 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday.
The Arsenal boss has appointed an adventurous formation, with Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka and Nicolas Pepe all included to support Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey as the only recognized sitting midfielder.
However, Odegaard adapted well to a slightly deeper role and Arteta highlighted the contribution of his attacking players to securing a second straight clean sheet in the league.
“[Odegaard] is probably the first to do so [those defensive responsibilities], “he added.” I was also very impressed with Auba – I think his pace and high pressing were fantastic.
“It was a real commitment and a goal because you can try to win the ball or put the pressure on [on] – but you can tell when you actually do it or when you have been told to do it.
“There was a great meaning behind that and when you go to places like that, when you go through tough times and you want to start getting results, I think you have to go to those basics and every player does. , even the ones that came in – I think they were great, boosted the momentum of the team and took us to a different level. I think that’s really important.
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