Opinion: If Odegaard doesn't sign, reported £21m Arsenal target is superb alternative

Nathaniel Kay April 6, 2021
Opinion: If Odegaard doesn't sign, reported £21m Arsenal target is superb alternative
Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images

Arsenal will certainly need a creative spark if Martin Odegaard decides he doesn’t want to stick around in north London. AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu could be the answer.

Odegaard has been a brilliant addition to Mikel Arteta’s squad since signing on loan from Real Madrid in January. But there’s no guarantee where the Norwegian will be playing his football next season.

If Real Madrid want to hold on to Odegaard, his void could be filled by the talents of Calhanoglu.

According to Sky Italia, Arsenal have contacted the AC Milan midfielder’s representatives about signing him in the summer transfer window.

The 27-year-old joined Milan for ­€25 million (£21 million) from Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 (Goal). However, the midfielder’s contract runs out in June, when he will be able to leave Milan as a free agent.

Here’s why we think Calhanoglu could be a superb replacement if Odegaard doesn’t want to make his Arsenal stay permanent.

Arsenal need more midfield goals

There’s no questioning Odegaard’s ability but one criticism that lingers on his young shoulders is his lack of goal contributions.

In 13 Arsenal appearances, the Norway captain has scored just twice and failed to register an assist.

But if you’re looking for a midfielder who can make an impact in attack, look no further than Calhanoglu.

His tally this campaign stands at seven goals and 11 assists in 34 games for Milan.

Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Whereas Odegaard usually provides a clever pass to set up an assist, Calhanoglu cuts straight to the chase by doing it himself.

That kind of directness would be beneficial for Arsenal, who have often been criticised for ‘overplaying’.

Free-kick king

It’s also no secret Calhanoglu is one of football’s most deadly free-kick specialists. The YouTube compilation of his best set-pieces is spectacular.

That kind of dead-ball delivery could improve any side, adding another weapon to the Gunners’ arsenal.

Although Odegaard is pretty nifty on corners and free-kicks, his calibre doesn’t come close to Calhanoglu.

Age is just a number

Every club wants to sign the next mercurial talent on the market, which Arsenal did when luring Odegaard from Madrid on loan.

However, sometimes a more experienced figure can be equally as profitable.

Calhanoglu is half a decade older than Odegaard but still has plenty of years left at the peak of his powers.

He has already amassed almost 400 matches in senior football and is a regular with the Turkey national team.

Perhaps a seasoned professional would aid Arsenal in their bid for titles – or at least regain their traditional top-four spot.

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"Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produced 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. Nathaniel is a full-time writer for the Chelsea Chronicle, and was formerly their social media man. His footballing career reached the sparkling heights of winning the Under-13s Bloxham Tournament in 2011."