Martin Odegaard, Norwegian teen sensation dubbed "the best talent in a decade", has just shaken the whole football world by joining Real Madrid in a mouth-watering deal.
Madrid's announcement did not disclose the terms of the agreement. But according to reports in Spain, the European Champions will pay £3.2 million to the Norwegian side for the service of Odegaard.
Odegaard, who turned 16 last December, will receive a basic wage of £40,000-a-week for his first half-season, but the figure can double later with bonuses. Odegaard chose Real Madrid after visiting Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, the two Manchester clubs, and Liverpool, his favourite team.
Money the decisive factor?
Odegaard revealed in his first conference with the new club that the chance to train and play under the guidance of French legend Zinedine Zidane convinced him to choose Madrid over other big clubs. Currently, Zidane is coaching Real Madrid B, called Real Madrid Castilla by locals, which is competing in Segunda División B.
However, Odegaard's decision still raises a lot of questions, and suspicion also, among football fans and experts. Do the young boy choose Real Madrid for pure football reasons as he has said, or for the huge amount of money that he and his people are offered?
Odegaard could regret move
Whatever the answer is, it is widely believed that Odegaard has made the wrong move.
Since the day of "the five Vultures", Real Madrid have no longer been the kind of club that can nurture the development of hot prospects. Juan Mata, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo, to name a few, all had to leave before they could make it to the first team. Are they bad? No. They just had no chance to prove themselves.
The demand in Real Madrid is very, very high. The competition is very, very tough. Yet the patience is very, very little. Big-spending clubs like Real Madrid are expected to challenge in every fronts. They just don't have time for kids. That is, of course, not the kind of environment young players like Odegaard should be in.
Others have failed
If Odegaard wants a mirror, just look at Sergio Canales. The Real Sociedad midfielder was once hailed as a wonderkid, doing brilliantly at Racing at the age of 17. But he never reached the level he was expected to be, mainly because of his move to Real Madrid in 2010. Before being loaned to Valencia after just one year in Bernabeu, he had never been given the playing time he needed.
In Odegaard's case, lacking of playing time will not be a problem, at least for now. However, Segunda División B, where Real Madrid B plays, is thought to not offer enough competition for the development of his talent. The Norwegian League, where Odegaard played and excelled, may not be the best league in Europe, but it surely is tougher than the Spanish third tier one.
Odegaard's choice, therefore, is not the best choice. Experts believe that a top team in a league outside top three of Europe, Ajax in specific, is what suits Odegaard the most. There he would have enough playing time, with appropriate competition level, and receive the support and protection he really needs.
But right or wrong, choice has been made. At the moment, all we can say is: Good luck, Martin.