Real presents Norwegian teen midfielder Martin Odegaard
Untold teenagers play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in a video game. A 16-year-old from Norway could do it for real.
Real Madrid presented Martin Odegaard, the latest young talent to join the European champion, on Thursday after he passed a standard medical exam to complete his transfer from Norwegian club Stroemgodset.
“It’s different playing for Real Madrid than Stroemgodset but it’s my dream and I am going to try to enjoy as much as I can,” Odegaard said through a translator.
First, though, he must make Real’s star-studded squad.
Odegaard will split training time with Madrid’s first team and the reserve team, where he will play until season’s end under the orders of France great Zinedine Zidane, club spokesman Emilio Burtagueno said. He added Odegaard would join the first team in the preseason next summer, and “we will make a decision from there.”
Odegaard said: “My goal is to become the best player I can, and whether I play for the first team or the reserve team doesn’t matter. It’s an advantage that the club has a good reserve team with a coach who was one of the best players in the world.”
In October, Odegaard made history by becoming the youngest player at age 15 to appear in a European Championship qualifier as a substitute in Norway’s 2-1 win over Bulgaria.
Odegaard is also the youngest player to debut and to score in the Norwegian league. He played 23 league matches for Stroemgodset last season, scoring five goals.
Dressed in a striped sweater, Odegaard described himself as a player “who likes having the ball, (and has) a good touch.”
Ronaldo has already spoken well of him.
“He has a good future,” Ronaldo said at the Ballon d’Or gala this month. “We must give him time to learn, and to take the best decisions, but I see a lot of potential in the player. (He has a) good left foot.”
Media reports said several European clubs went after the precocious teenager. Madrid did not release the financial details of the transfer.
“He is a player of extraordinary talent in whom we have placed big hopes,” Burtagueno said.
He said Odegaard’s father, a former player-turned-coach, has been hired by the club to help coach its youth teams.
Odegaard is the second coveted talent Madrid has snatched up this winter. On Dec. 5, it signed 18-year-old Mallorca winger Marco Asensio after he showed promise with Spain’s youth teams.
But given the quality and depth of Madrid’s squad, becoming a regular Madrid player may still be far away. A long line of promising young players such as Alvaro Morata, Sergio Canales and Pedro Leon have ended up on other clubs.