Opinion: Arsenal ace could go on to become more influential than Ozil

Nathaniel Kay April 2, 2021
Opinion: Arsenal ace could go on to become more influential than Ozil
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

There are so many similarities between the mercurial talents of Martin Odegaard and Mesut Ozil.

They both moved from Real Madrid to Arsenal – albeit the Norwegian is currently on loan – and are both creative geniuses, magical powers stemming from a wand-like left-foot.

Odegaard joined the Gunners aged 22, Ozil at 24. The German had a stellar first season at the Emirates and it looks as though the Dane has settled in rather quickly too.

Both were handed the number 11 jersey at Arsenal. Hey, their initials are even the same!

Great start to Arsenal career

Ozil produced an impressive seven goals and 14 assists in 42 appearances during his first season in England.

His Norwegian counterpart has played 12 times for the Gunners so far, scoring twice, wowing fans and settling well into north London life.

Here are our reasons why Odegaard could outperform Ozil by becoming Arsenal’s mastermind midfielder for many years to come.

Odegaard has it all to do

Firstly, the Gunners have to make his loan move from Real Madrid a permanent deal.

That’s something the club is eager to get over the line ahead of next season, with the Norwegian skipper seeking “stability and development”.

Securing his future at Arsenal would allow Odegaard to flourish in the famous red and white without fear of returning to limbo land in Spain.

Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Odegaard is a player Mikel Arteta could build a team around – and that would take the 22-year-old into territory Ozil never experienced.

When the German joined Arsenal, he became part of a team already bursting with artistic minds.

Wenger had Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Players who saw themselves as attacking influencers.

Of course Ozil’s contribution should never be overlooked – but he had others around him to carry the burden in his absence.

Short on gunpowder

The class of 2020/21 don’t have that luxury.

Bukayo Saka, Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith Rowe have been excellent, while Willian and Nicolas Pepe have merely shown glimpses of their undoubted talent.

Other than that, the Gunners have been lacking gunpowder this season.

And that’s where Odegaard comes in. He provides a spark none of his teammates can conjure at the moment.

The Norwegian appears two steps ahead of his teammates at times, constantly scanning ahead for his next precision pass.


Peak-era Ozil had all that ability too, yet Odegaard offers an added element that puts him ahead of his predecessor. His work rate is far greater than the German’s, which was always the main critique of his Arsenal career.

Arsene Wenger often allowed Ozil to waltz around without defensive duties because of his quality.

Whatever you may think, Arteta won’t allow his players to be so carefree – a philosophy Odegaard appears locked into already.

Combine that work rate with moments of ingenuity and the Gunners will have found the perfect Odegaard formula.  

Sign him up as soon as you can and build a team around him. Sounds like a good plan, anyway.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.