Real Madrid youngster Martin Odegaard further enhanced his burgeoning reputation on Monday night with an impressive performance for Norway against Sweden.
The 16-year-old played the full 90 minutes at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, as the two Scandinavian nations played out a relatively uneventful 0-0 draw.
Many of the 26,000-strong crowd had turned up to catch a glimpse of the talented Odegaard, who joined Real Madrid in January, and he made a good impression despite failing to help Norway win the international friendly.
Odegaard showed plenty of neat touches and played one particularly lovely chipped pass which could - and perhaps should - have resulted in Norway breaking the deadlock.
But his small physique remains a problem when up against powerful opponents. At one point he found himself up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the difference in size between them was striking.
Zlatan speaks out about Odegaard
Incidentally, Zlatan had a few words of praise for Odegaard after the match, telling reporters he was impressed with what he saw from the teenager.
“He played well, did the simple things and gave away very few balls,” the world-class striker told Swedish daily Aftonbladet, according to AS. “He has plenty of time ahead to improve and it’s good that he’s playing with his national team.”
However, Ibrahimovic also felt the need to dispense some questionable career advice to the youngster.
“Firstly, he needs to grow up, become a man and then leave his father,” the outspoken Zlatan added. “His father controls absolutely everything.”
Odegaard's frustration at Real Madrid
Indeed, Odegaard’s father played a crucial role in helping his son decide which club he would leave Stromsgodset for.
The left-footed playmaker trained with several of Europe’s top clubs before eventually deciding to join the ten-time European champions.
Odegaard made his Real Madrid first-team debut on the final day of the season - in a 7-3 demolition of Getafe at the Bernabeu - but there have been disagreements between the player, his father and the club.
Real Madrid have failed to adhere to a clause in Odegaard’s contract which stipulates the youngster must train with the club's senior squad five days a week.
That has not always happened, with Real Madrid coaches deciding it was in the Norway international’s best interests to spend time with the club’s Castilla side, coached by Zinedine Zidane, instead.
Rafael Benitez, the club’s newly-appointed manager, has decided that Odegaard should spent next season out on loan before returning to Real Madrid in 12 months time.
But this has disappointed some Real Madrid fans, who feel the potential superstar is now ready to play alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
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