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Arsenal passed up chance to sign Martin Odegaard aged 14 despite inside information

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Arsenal paid £35million to sign Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid last summer, but if the Gunners had taken advice some nine years ago, he would have been a whole lot cheaper

Martin Odegaard cost Arsenal £35m last summer, but the club passed up on the opportunity to sign him nine years earlier for a fraction of a cost

Arsenal missed out on the chance to sign Martin Odegaard when the playmaker was just 14 after failing to take advice from a member of their supporters group in Norway.

Odegaard burst onto the scene with Stromsgodset in the Norwegian division after training with the first team at the age of just 13. He made his professional debut at the age of 15 years and 118 days, making him the youngest footballer to play in the Tippeligaen, and became Norway’s youngest-ever player when appearing for the senior team against United Arab Emirates in November 2014.

Reports of his meteoric rise in Norway captured the attention of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona. But before he announced himself on the world stage, Odegaard was spotted by an Arsenal-supporting staff member who worked as head of security at Stromsgodset who felt he had to recommend the youngster to his club.

Bjorn Furuheim, who also spent time leading Arsenal ‘s Norwegian supporters’ group, told The Athletic : “When Martin was 14 and started training with the first team, given my relations to Arsenal, I tried to call someone at the club to make a recommendation.

‘You have to see the guy, he is so young, so good…’. I had Paul Davis’ number, from when some legends used to come to Arsenal Norway. I said, ‘You have to tell someone at the club about Martin’.”

However, Arsenal did not make a move to sign Odegaard on that occasion and the youngster sealed a high-profile switch to Real Madrid before his 16th birthday. He struggled to find a place in Los Blancos’ first team, however, and was farmed out on loan to Heerenveen and Real Sociedad.






Martin Odegaard made his Stromsgodset debut at the age of 15

Have Your Say! Which player do you wish your club signed earlier? Comment below.

Their failure to take notice of his glowing recommendation for Odegaard may well have cost them millions after his £35m transfer in August 2021 following a successful loan spell. But Arsenal have, at least, got their man and with six goals and four assists in the Premier League this season, Odegaard is now thriving under Mikel Arteta.

Furuheim, who recently made the trip to north London to watch Arsenal’s first team and Under 23s in action, has heaped praise on the Gunners for resurrecting the 23-year-old’s career after falling off the grid in Madrid. “Arteta loves him. He has friends in the club. In Real Madrid — no friends,” he said.

“He played with the second team, he earned a lot of money and was training with the first team; [but it was] not a great period for him. I heard so many people say that when he came to Arsenal, everything changed. It is a fantastic story.

“It is so good to see my club, Arsenal, can make him that good because of the way they treat him. He has come to the right club. It is like a family for him. Everybody needs to be taken care of, even a super-super-class player.”

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