Arsenal have been true to their word of buying for the future with the latest agreements with Martin Odergaard and Aaron Ramsdale on five and four-year contracts respectively.
The interesting thing about the Odergaard deal is that Los Blancos have inserted a first refusal clause meaning Arsenal are obliged to notify them if an offer from another club is accepted in future and they would have to match the bid, which implies they still see him emerging as a top-class player. The initial fee is £30m rising to £34m with add-ons.
The obvious advantage of Odergaard is his dual defensive and attacking qualities. Arteta said of the Norwegian, last season after the Spurs game: “He has got real stamina and he is so talented. Not only that, he is intelligent. The timing of his runs, when he presses, his body shape. I am really impressed and he had an incredible performance. He is giving us something different and it is making us better.”
Another is the fact he will be up-to-speed with the team straight away rather than taking 6-12 months to aclimatise.
Going on last season, it would appear Arteta favours the Norwegian as a number 10, as he appeared there more times than Emile Smith Rowe. In the 15 games he started, nine were directly behind the striker, with Smith Rowe moving the left side. Arteta wants to play both together in the same side – and with Odergaard favouring the right – it could work out.
Ramsdale has arrived with an initial fee of £24m and £6m add-ons, with those largely dependent on the number of games he plays, and whether he becomes the Arsenal number one. He has the option of an extra year on his four-year contract.
A discussion on Sky Sports between Lee Hendrie and Gareth Ainsworth on the move, suggested that Sheffield United had got the better of the deal, with both expressing doubts, including over Ramsdale’s distribution and suggesting Sam Johnstone was the better keeper. But Arsenal have bought potential, and he wouldn’t have made the England squad if there were serious doubts. And he may improve the performances of Bernd Leno.
They said that at £30m he has to be the Arsenal number one keeper.
Some will point to the sale of Emiliano Martinez, as an expensive mistake but Arsenal needed the funds, similar to the Iwobi sale the season before, and Joe Willock in this window. It is easy to criticise moves in isolation, without looking at the whole picture.
The average age of Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Nuno Tavares, Martin Odergaard and Aaron Ramsdale is 22 at a cost of between £130-£140m and brings the average age of the whole squad down considerably.