Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has publicly criticized Martin Odegaard over his decision to leave his team and join Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season.
“He wanted to leave, we have spoken about it two or three times,” the Frenchman said, as relayed by Marca.
“He is a player who wants to play. Martin wanted to leave, he wanted to get minutes and chances elsewhere. The player demanded it. I told him to stay and fight, but it wasn’t to be.”
Odegaard had an excellent 2019-20 season with Real Sociedad, and with the Spanish giants unable to make any signings last summer due to financial difficulties, they recalled the Norwegian from his loan there. Naturally, Odegaard expected a proper chance to show what he can do, but Zidane named him in the starting XI only three times in La Liga and sent him into the fray off the bench on four occasions more. It’s hardly a proper chance for a player to show his quality.
What Zidane appears to be refusing to accept that it’s quite understandable for a player of Odegaard’s talent and age to think about his development first and foremost. What’s more, Zidane has rarely fielded a proper No.10, which is ironic given that he himself was a fabulous one, preferring a midfield trio of a deep-sitting ‘6’, mostly Casemiro, and two players a bit further up – Kroos and Modric. The failures of Isco and James Rodriguez come to mind.
Competing against such top-level players of vast experience, for a role he’s not really suited for, simply doesn’t seem fair to the youngster. His move to Arsenal at this point in his career made perfect sense, and if Zidane sees that as a lack of will to fight for a place in the team, than it’s his loss.