Manchester United’s hopes of signing Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard have been dealt a huge blow, with the player reportedly on the verge of signing a contract with European champions Real Madrid.
The Manchester Evening News report that Odegaard’s representatives have not made any contact with the Red Devils after the teenager’s visit to United’s Aon Training Complex last month.
And speculation is rife on the continent that Real Madrid have won the race to sign the 16-year-old Stromsgodset midfielder who has also been strongly linked with a host of top European clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Odegaard 'chooses' Real Madrid
With the new domestic season in Norway not getting underway until March, Odegaard and his father Hans Erik - who acts as his son’s advisor - took the opportunity to visit, and in some instances train with, as many interested clubs as possible during the festive period.
And having reported back for pre-season with his current employers this week, it appears Odegaard - widely regarded as the most talented player to emerge from Scandinavia for years - has reached a decision over his next move. But it does not involve Manchester United.
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Nor does it involve Liverpool, one of the teams Odegaard was photographed training with in December. The teenager is a fan of the Merseyside outfit but has reportedly decided that his best chance of fulfilling his immense potential is at the Bernabeu, despite the intense competition for places there.
Lionel Messi comparisons
Odegaard’s sweet left foot and supreme close control have inevitably led to comparisons with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, who is believed to be the idol of the in-demand Norwegian teenager.
Barcelona invited Odegaard to the Camp Nou and La Masia - but may have lost out in the race to sign the starlet after losing their appeal to have their current transfer ban overturned. The Catalan giants are still unable to make any new signings until January 2016 at the earliest.
Odegaard has no fear - Nielsen
Barca’s loss is Real Madrid’s gain. It’s unclear whether Odegaard has already played his final match for Stromsgodset, although manager David Nielsen knows this is a player destined for the very top.
“He has a touch on the ball, you have not seen before,” he told reporters. “We are not accustomed to seeing the type of player in Scandinavia.
“Everything he does, even the most indifferent run in a pass exercise, is 100 per cent. It sets new standards for how to train and what is needed to be accomplished.
“There is no fear in him. He does the same exact thing in battle, as he tries to exercise. He is humble as a person, but he is not humble on the football field.”