Arsenal signed Martin Odegaard on loan after failing to secure a temporary deal for Barcelona’s Riqui Puig, according to Fabrizio Romano via the Daily Express.
The Gunners were keen on signing a creative midfielder in the January transfer window as they were looking for a player to compete with Emile Smith-Rowe.
The Arsenal academy product has performed exceedingly well since breaking into the first team in December but has suffered from a few injuries in the last few years and the North London side wanted to strengthen their options in this position.
They set their sights on Barcelona’s promising 21-year-old Puig who is considered to be one of the most exciting young players in the game. The Gunners enquired about the player’s availability and the Spanish giants decided to wait to see whether the player featured in head coach Ronald Koeman’s plans.
Puig has been a bit-part player so far this season and has made just fourteen appearances in all competitions. Koeman is believed to rate the player very highly and so the Blaugrana rejected the North London side’s offer and decided to keep the talented midfielder.
Speaking on the Here We Go podcast, Romano’s co-host Francesco Porzio said:
“Let’s go back to the Premier League and let’s reveal the behind the scenes of the past transfer window between two clubs, one is Barcelona and one is Arsenal.”
“At the start of the window Arsenal were seriously trying to sign Riqui Puig on loan with a buy option, in a similar deal as Odegaard, also with Riqui Puig at Barcelona.”
“Barcelona said let’s see with Koeman, if he wants to keep the player if he wants to play, let’s wait some weeks. Then in the middle of January they said no, Riqui Puig is not moving, we are keeping him.”
In recent weeks, Puig has begun to feature more for the Catalan side and this is a sign that the player is in Koeman’s plans.
After failing in their bid to land Puig, the Gunners turned their focus to Odegaard who became available later in the window. The Norway international was by no means the club’s second choice but was simply unavailable earlier in the window.
He requested Real Madrid to allow him to leave the club on loan later in the window and Arsenal decided to make the most of this unexpected opportunity.
Manager Mikel Arteta is believed to have had a conversation with the 22-year-old which played a big part in convincing the player to join Arsenal. Prior to this, Real Sociedad were considered to be the favourites for his signature.
The Gunners do not have an option to make this deal permanent in the summer but they do have an agreement with Real Madrid to have a discussion on the matter at the end of the Norway international’s loan spell.
Since securing his move to the Emirates, Odegaard has made two appearances in the Premier League.