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Odegaard – Norwegian Wonderkid: Europe’s Next Superstar?

Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard has been the focus point in Norwegian football in 2014 and big European clubs are currently sniffing around the player as he has been labelled the next big thing in the world of football.

The 15-year-old Norwegian wonderkid is currently signed to Norwegian side Stromsgodset and his young age hasn’t stopped him from becoming the star of the team but where exactly has this wonderkid come from.

Martin Odegaard was born on the 17th of December 1998 in Drammen, Norway and he is the son of former Stromsgodset midfielder Hans Erik Odegaard who is now currently the manager of Norwegian side Mjondalen IF. Martin’s father encouraged him to sign for Stromsgodset at a young age and he went on to play for the club’s junior side and then played for their third side before being invited to train with the first team when he was only 14.

Odegaard made his debut for the first team on the 13th of April 2014 in a game against Aalesunds FK in the Marienlyst Stadion, which made him the youngest ever player to play in the Tippeligaen. In May 2014, Odegaard signed his first official contract with Stromsgodset and then on the 16th of May 2014 he became the youngest ever goalscorer in the Tippeligaen when he netted the fourth goal against Sarpsborg 08 FF in a 4-1 win.

Odegaard made his European debut for his club on the 16th of July when he came on as a substitute in his side’s Champions League second round qualifier against Steaua Bucharest. This was an amazing achievement for any 15-year-old but he continued to improve and made a major breakthrough in a game against Sandnes Ulf in late July 2014 when he was involved in all three goals that his side scored, which made Norweigan football fans begin to call for him to be named in the national side.

August 2014 was was a huge month for the youngster as he managed to make three assists from the right wing for his side in their 3-2 win over IK Start on the 15th of August. Odegaard was also called up to the national side in August and made his debut in a 0-0 draw against the United Arab Emirates.

This was a historical moment for Norweigan football as Odegaard had broken a record that stood since 1910, and was set by Tormod Kjellsen who was the youngest player to play for Norway when he was 15 years and 351 days old, while Odegaard was 15 years and 253 days old when he made his debut in August 2014.

On the 13th of October 2014, Odegaard broke another record as he became the youngest ever player to feature in a UEFA European Championship qualifier when he featured in Norway’s 2-1 win over Bulgaria. Only six days later, Odegaard scored twice in Stromsgodset’s 2-1 win over Lillestrom SK.

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Playing style

Odegaard is an attacking midfielder who often plays just behind the striker in a free role in Stromsgodset’s usual 4-3-3 formation but has had success playing on the right wing such as when he managed to make three assists in Stromsgodset’s game against IK Start. Odegaard has quick feet which allows him to flourish in a high tempo game as his technical game is so strong.

The attacking midfielder has pace to go along with skill, which is a frightening combination for any defence that has to deal with him. The wonder kid can also pick out a pass and is already showing intelligence in his game as he doesn’t come across as a greedy player and will try and set up his teammates.

The only weakness in his current game is that he needs to work on the physical side of his game as he is often out-muscled by opponents but that is bound to happen as the player is only 15 and currently stands at 5ft 7inches. As Odegaard matures, he will strengthen physically and he could become one of Europe’s most exciting players.

Odegaard’s Norway team-mate and former Blackburn winger Morten Gamst Pedersen praised the wonder kid by saying,

“For his age he is unbelievable, his knowledge of the game is unbelievable and his technical skills are fantastic”.

Check out Odegaard’s technical ability here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Smi8jvNixL8

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Rumour mill

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Martin Odegaard and his future since he broke into the Norwegian senior side but the speculation has intensified in recent weeks as he has been heavily linked with European giants Liverpool. The Norwegian media has stated that the youngster is a life-long Liverpool fan and Liverpool have invited the wonder kid to see their facilities at Anfield and Melwood before Christmas.

These rumours went into overdrive when Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for the youngster in a recent press conference as the kop boss stated,

“I know he is a big talent for that age. To be playing senior football at 15 in a competitive league, he’s got a wonderful ability and a wonderful talent”.

Although, Liverpool have a huge task of encouraging the youngster to sign for the Anfield club as he is being monitored by huge clubs all around Europe including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ajax, Stuttgart, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Norwegian press have this week stated that Martin Odegaard could visit 2-4 European clubs over Christmas as clubs such as Ajax have begun to show a huge interest in the player. The player himself hasn’t made any public statements regarding his future, but interested clubs may act quicker in trying to sign the winger as he has stated in the past that Bayern Munich are the best club in the world when he claimed,

“They’re the best in the world. They play good football with lots of good players”.

Whether Odegaard will follow his heart and decide to join Liverpool who he has supported as a kid or whether the temptation of current European giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be too much to refuse, we will have to wait and see, but the 15-year-old is keeping focused on his football and isn’t getting carried away as he claimed,

“If you get carried away now, you won’t get far in 10 years. I’m supposed to be at my best then, not now. I know that”.

Sarah Fitxpatrick, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.