Martin Odegaard update not a concern for Mikel Arteta as Arsenal already have alternative
Arsenal: Arteta lauds 'intelligent' Odegaard
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Arsenal’s chances of keeping Martin Odegaard beyond this season have taken a hit in recent days. Reports from Spain claim Real Madrid chiefs are not prepared to sell Odegaard at any price, despite the midfielder not completely seeing eye to eye with Zinedine Zidane. But failing to bring in a No 10 this summer should not be a major concern for Mikel Arteta.
Arteta made it his priority in January to sign an attacking midfielder.
Up until Christmas, it was clear that was the position that needed strengthening.
However, Emile Smith Rowe’s performance in the Boxing Day win over Chelsea proved Arteta already has the player to fill that void.
Arteta can be excused for still wanting to sign Odegaard in January after just a handful of matches for Smith Rowe.
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But the Gunners academy graduate has since proven his showing against Chelsea was far from a one-off.
Arsenal have a special talent in Smith Rowe, who will add goals to his game eventually.
Arteta brought the 20-year-old straight back into his starting XI for the biggest game of the season against Slavia Prague on Thursday and he did not let him down.
Smith Rowe has built up a good on-pitch relationship with Alexandre Lacazette, as well as Bukayo Saka who he will know well from their time in the academy.
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Squad depth is important and Smith Rowe’s injury record is sketchy to say the least.
But signing Odegaard, or another No 10, should not be as much a priority as it was six months ago.
Spanish outlet Marca claim Odegaard is one of four ‘untouchable’ young players who will not be allowed to leave Real this summer.
And that should allow Arsenal to invest in other areas instead.
Full-back areas need addressing and strengthening, a right-sided centre-back should be targeted, and perhaps a long-term replacement for goalkeeper Bernd Leno as well as a centre-forward if Lacazette leaves.
What also decreases the need for a No 10 is the performances of Nicolas Pepe in recent weeks.
The club-record signing is starting to show glimpses of his true quality, scoring his 10th goal of the season on Thursday.
If Arteta can rely on Pepe more often out wide, then he can use the likes of Saka at No 10 if Smith Rowe is unavailable.
Arsenal have an abundance of young attacking players, with Gabriel Martinelli also knocking on the door for a regular spot.
So the news about Odegaard is not as big a blow as some may make out, and other areas of weakness should be addressed first.
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