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Premier League • England

Paul Merson completes drastic U-turn over Arsenal signing as player branded ‘quality’

Paul Merson, football pundit

Paul Merson has completely changed his tune over Arsenal star Martin Odegaard, having previously called the 23-year-old a ‘lazy’signing’.

Odegaard spent the second half of last season on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid. He made 20 appearances in all competitions, registering two goals and two assists.

The Gunners then captured Odegaard permanently for £30million in August. However, Merson wasn’t impressed with the transfer at the time.

He wrote in his Daily Star column: “Mikel Arteta is making a mistake signing Martin Odegaard – and his job could soon be on the line.

“What are they doing signing Odegaard? If Odegaard really wanted to be at Arsenal he would have signed at the end of his loan.

“But he didn’t want to join them. He wanted to go back to Real Madrid. In days gone by that would have been it. Arsenal would have said – sorry, you’ve had your chance. Next!

“He didn’t exactly pull up any trees on loan did he? He only scored two goals! I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s another lazy signing. No other Premier League team was going for him.”

Paul Merson in extreme turnaround

However, Odegaard has gradually been increasing his influence on Arsenal this season. He enjoyed a great run of form in December, scoring goals in three consecutive league games.

And the Norway international got on the scoresheet in the recent 3-2 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.

He could become Arsenal captain in the future, and Merson has turned his criticism into praise. “He is a very good footballer,” Merson said on Sky Sports (via football.london).

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“I didn’t really see that at the start of his time with Arsenal, but I really see it now. He’s a player that sees things very quickly and he has great movement. He is a quality player.

“I think it did take him a while to get going and settle into life at Arsenal.

“He probably hoped things would work out for him at Real Madrid, but now he’s at Arsenal and he’s seen what a club it is. It’s a move that’s worked out for both parties.”

Ray Parlour makes transfer claim

Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Ray Parlour wants the North London outfit to raid Manchester United for Marcus Rashford.

According to 90Min, Rashford is showing frustration at his lack of game time under Rangnick. He could even submit a transfer request this summer, with his contract expiring in 2023.

Other outlets claim Arsenal and Real Madrid may move in to sign the England forward.

Parlour, who made over 400 appearances for the Gunners, has now reacted to the transfer links. He said on talkSPORT (via HITC): “I am sure lots of clubs will be enquiring about Marcus Rashford if he was available in the summer. Certainly Arsenal, I would love him to come to Arsenal.”

READ MORE: Disruptive transfer foe plotting Arsenal raid for established star as price depreciates