The sale of Martin Odegaard to Arsenal announced this Friday highlights the two planes in which the strategic issue of young people at Real Madrid moves in these times of pandemic: money and the ball. On the one hand, the departure of the Norwegian, aged 22, for around 35 million euros to the gunners It represents a clear economic success for the club with a player who was signed in the winter of 2015 for 2.8; and that he leaves the Bernabéu with just 11 games played, and zero goals and zero assists.
In this moment of economic difficulties due to the covid, there are some promises, made in Valdebebas or acquired abroad, which are softening the impact on the white hacienda. The medium joins other names in the house, such as Achraf (41 million), Reguilón (30) or Óscar Rodríguez (13.5), whose recent transfers have served to cushion the blow and satisfy the top priority of making cash. while this state of exception lasts. Trapped by the generous contracts of veterans such as Isco, Marcelo and Bale, and unsuccessful bets such as Mariano, since the bug appeared, most of the income in Concha Espina has come from twenty-somethings on the rise rather than notable surnames, with the exception of Varane (for 40 to United).
The white club, in collection mode due to the pandemic, has already transferred Achraf, Reguilón and Óscar
However, the monetary injection that leaves the Nordic blond’s departure to his London comfort zone, where he already received the pampering of Mikel Arteta when he left last January, is a two-sided story. While the economic profile brings relief, the sports car again shows that the announced generational change of the workforce is not consummated despite the large battery of hires.
Odegaard can be considered the first signing of bells of all the young people who have landed in the white box in recent years. His appearance received the highest attention that a 16-year-old boy could have, wanted by the main entities in Europe and who landed in Valdebebas after a meticulous election process carried out together with his father. He was presented by Emilio Butragueño and, although he started playing for Castilla de Zidane, he frequently went up to train with the first team. And he was, in fact, the earliest debutant in the club’s history: at 16 years and 157 days, against Getafe on the last day of 2014/15, precisely with Ancelotti on the bench and replacing Cristiano. A photo that also had something symbolic: the megastar and an important bet for the future.
“I have my reasons”
But, six years later, the Norwegian left practically without opening his mouth on the pitch with the Madrid crest. His good performances on loan at Vitesse, Real Sociedad and Arsenal made him an asset to cover the central plot in the coming years, where Modric (safe tomorrow against Levante due to adductor problems) is a few days away from fulfilling the 36 and a declining Isco only has one contract campaign left. It was recovered in the last two summers to rejuvenate that area and prepare for the transfer of powers, but the sports operation never caught on.
Last season he asked to leave in January frustrated by the lack of minutes with Zidane and in this he did not see things very clear either. “Most of what they are saying is not the truth. I have my reasons, I know what happened and that is why I think it is for the best, “said the player at his farewell, in response to the general comment that he did not burn all his ships in Madrid.
His departure alters the immediate plans of the club in a midfield that, for the moment, has not needed it excessively thanks to the always successful trio (Casemiro-Modric-Kroos), but that cannot delay much longer the progressive transfer of hierarchies. That should have been, mainly with Valverde, Odegaard’s mission in the short term. That was the ultimate goal when he was signed at age 16, to instruct him to take over when the time comes. However, in the last season, the sports plan did not bear fruit.
Odegaard had to oxygenate the core of a team that does not take that step in an attack either
If for that generational change in the middle there have not been great urgencies so far, the needs in the attack have been pressing and it has not occurred either. In this case, not due to the absence or sale of cash, as with the Norwegian, but because the bets do not finish germinating. Neither the 45 million invested before the pandemic in Vinicius and Rodrygo, much less the 60 million by Jovic, nor the commitment to Asensio have so far taken a striker hanging from a single clamp, that of Benzema (renewed until 2023), from poor . With any of these names, in addition, the economic profitability is in serious danger. The obvious example is that of Jovic.
A bet on these young attackers that still does not report great results despite the number of opportunities that Hazard’s continuous injuries have also offered them. In defense, meanwhile, a light has been lit with the lug of Militão (50 million, the most expensive defender in the club). The leaders have believed that between their resurrection, Alaba and Nacho can face a future behind without the Ramos-Varane couple.
The youngsters have become in recent times in Madrid a strategic matter. At the moment, they have not brought the expected generational change, although several of them have served as a financial float in a club that has been put into collection mode.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.