Van Gaal names clubs Arsenal star should’ve signed for after transfer error

Steve Pearson
Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard 2021

Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal hailed Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard in multiple areas of his game, but revealed who he should’ve signed for after a costly transfer mistake.

The Norwegian playmaker, 22, joined Arsenal on a permanent deal this season after impressing on loan last year. Loan spells were nothing new to Odegaard. Since joining Real Madrid as a teenager in 2015, Odegaard had been loaned out four separate times between 2017-21.

Thankfully, for Gunners fans, Odegaard found his feet in north London and duly signed for an initial €35m fee. And speaking prior to the Netherlands’ 2-0 victory over Norway on Tuesday, Dutch boss Van Gaal spoke highly of Odegaard.

When asked which Norwegian player he would love to see line up in orange – aside from Erling Haaland of course – Van Gaal said (via the Mirror): “I shall choose between and Odegaard and [Genk midfielder Kristian] Thorstvedt.

“Odegaard is very creative and has very good passing. He can play the ball where he wants.

“When the player demands the ball in a good position he can give the ball. And he’s a team player. He stays a team player, that is very good.”

Odegaard was once one of the most highly-touted prospects in world football. However, his premature move to Spanish giant Real may have hindered his development, rather than helped.

That is certainly the view of Van Gaal, who suggested the attacker would be a more rounded and better educated player if he had have signed for a club in Dutch football instead. The Eredivisie has a strong reputation for talent development. Precocious talents at Real Madrid, meanwhile, can often get lost in the shuffle.

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“It is a simple answer. Ajax would be the best education,” continued the former Manchester United boss.

“AZ is also a very nice place for young Norwegian players to go to.”

Regardless, Odegaard’s journey through Real Madrid has seen him become Norway captain aged just 22. It’s also seen him wind up at the Emirates, and given his encouraging displays over the last 10 months, Mikel Arteta will be satisfied with the path Odegaard has taken.

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Meanwhile, Everton are reportedly lining up a £5m move for Arsenal defender Calum Chambers in January, as they look for cover for veteran star Seamus Coleman.

Chambers joined the Gunners in 2014 from their Premier League rivals Southampton for a fee in the region of £16m. However, the 26-year-old has never managed to nail down a regular place in the starting line-up under any of Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery or Mikel Arteta.

Toffees boss Rafa Benitez was tipped to raid the Emirates for another Arsenal star in Ainsley Maitland-Niles during the summer. However, it now appears that he has his eyes on Chambers instead.

Benitez wants cover at right-back for Coleman, who has been blighted by injuries in the past. Chambers would certainly provide an experienced option and he would also come very cheap.

The report in The Sun claims that the versatile defender, who can also play at centre-back, would cost around £5m. The lower fee is down to his contract expiring in the summer of 2022.

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