So, just how good *is* Martin Odegaard and can he fulfil the immense potential he showed before joining Real Madrid back in 2015?
It may feel that the Norway international has been on the scene for a fairly long time now but he doesn’t turn 19 until December.
Odegaard joined Madrid at the age of 16, signing from his boyhood club Stromsgodset for a reported fee of £2.3 million almost three years ago.
He made his first-team debut for Los Blancos on the final day of the 2014-15 campaign, coming on as a second-half substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo against Getafe.
However, Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid’s manager at the time, later described that particular substitution as a “PR exercise”. Needless to say, Ancelotti’s admission must have been hugely embarrassing for Odegaard.
Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and then Zinedine Zidane all felt that Odegaard wasn’t yet ready for first-team football at the Bernabeu.
Odegaard was loaned to Heerenveen in January
Zidane subsequently agreed to loan the young Norwegian starlet to Heerenveen back in January of this year. The teenager signed an 18-month loan deal and he made 15 appearances for the Dutch club last season, scoring two goals.
We analysed his first performance for the club, against Den Haag, and came to the conclusion that he was still a player with incredible talent and potential despite concerns that his career has stalled.
But how has Odegaard’s career developed since then?
A couple of weeks ago we showed you an incredible free-kick that he scored for the Norway’s Under-21 side and it seems the youngster is now firmly on the right path.
Video: Odegaard's individual highlights v Excelsior
Odegaard was excellent in Heerenveen’s 2-1 win over Excelsior on Saturday and you can watch his individual highlights from the match here…
What this latest footage tells us
As you can see, Odegaard is adjusting to senior football nicely. He looks stronger, faster and more confident than ever before.
Some of Odegaard’s touches are sublime while his range of passing has also improved.
He’s now finding space in central areas, instead of always drifting out to the wings, and his overall footballing intelligence has advanced significantly.
If he keeps it up, Zidane will surely be tempted to include Odegaard in his first-team squad for the 2018-19 campaign.