Remember Martin Ødegaaed, the Norwegian wonderkid was supposed to be the future, wasn’t he? Signed for big money at a young age, the Norwegian was being touted as the next great European midfielder, but it hasn’t worked out that way until now.
There is something thrilling about watching an unknown teenager that we can’t get enough of them. Teenage footballers simply have an astronomical level of pressure of expectation thrust upon them. We all know the tragic stories of Freddy Adu, Keirrison and Kerlon, who burst onto the scene as teenagers and received far too much hype, which ultimately resulted in their downfall. So, will Ødegaaed become another example of a young player receiving far too much hype and attention and consequently failed to live up to that early career promise?
Born on 17 December,1998, to a former footballer Hans Erik Ødegaard. Martin Ødegaard broke one record after another before his 16th birthday, first he became the youngest player to ever feature in Norway’s Tippeligaen and soon became the country’s youngest ever international footballer. A promising attacking midfielder, Ødegaard drew comparisons with the likes of David Silva for his creativity and passing precision.
The Norwegian’s meteoric rise at Strømsgodset Toppfotball attracted much interest from elite European clubs. In December 2014, during the Norwegian close season, Ødegaard trained with the first teams at Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal. In January 2015, he trained with Real Madrid, which culminated in a move to the Spanish capital for a fee reported by Spanish media as around €3 million. Due to his young age, Odegaard was brought in to mostly play and train with the reserve side, Real Madrid Castilla, but fans quickly called for the kid to feature for the first team, bigging him up as the club’s latest prodigy.
On 23 May. 2015, the youngster made his senior debut in a one-sided win over Getafe and became the youngest debutant in the history of the club at 16 years and 157 days. The following season, Ødegaard was a regular starter for the Real Madrid Castilla. His consistent performance for the reserve side earned him, his first start for Real Madrid first team on 30 November 2016, 679 days after signing for the club.
After a couple of solid but unspectacular seasons, a loan move seemed like the right idea for his development, and Ødegaaard was shipped off to SC Heerenveen in January, 2017, for an 18-month spell in the Eredivisie. A mediocre return of three goals scored in 38 league appearances shows that the young midfielder didn’t set the Eredivisie ablaze and he was by large deemed as another flop wonderkid at only 19.
In summer 2018, Ødegaard briefly returned to Real Madrid and appeared in all 3 matches in 2018 International Champions Cup. However, on 21 August 2018, the Los Blancos announced that Ødegaard will be loaned again for the 2018–19 season, to another Eredivisie club, SBV Vitesse.
Since he moved to the eastern Netherlands, he’s got his head down and become a regular starter in a young team pushing for the Europa League play-offs. In 27 appearances, he has 6 assist and 6 goals to his name in the Eredivisie. Under coach, Leonid Slutsky, Ødegaard has predominantly played as a right-midfielder or as a right-winger. With an average of 3.4 key passes per match, he has become the main creative force of the team. He has also got several international caps under his belt now.
It will be interesting to see whether, he could become the first wonderkid to be labelled a flop and then still make it at the very top. We can’t be sure if he’ll ever live up to the outrageous hype he once garnered or if he’ll ever feature for Real Madrid in the seasons to come, but his recent run of form has certainly indicates certain development.