Martin Odegaard: Arsenal midfielder says ‘leadership’ roles ‘bring out best’ in young team

Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard
Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard was made captain against Everton at the weekend

Young players taking on leadership roles “brings the best” out of Arsenal’s squad, Martin Odegaard says.

Manager Mikel Arteta is looking to appoint a new captain following the exit of Alexandre Lacazette to Lyon.

Asked about his leadership qualities, Odegaard told BBC Sport: “I think I’ve maybe improved that quality a little bit with the time and experience.”

He added: “I’ve been through a lot of things, ups and downs, and I think all that makes you stronger.”

Odegaard, who already captains his country, is one of a number of young talents at the club, including Bukayo Saka, 20, Emile Smith Rowe, 21, and Gabriel Martinelli, 21.

Arteta has also added midfielder Fabio Vieira, 22, and striker Gabriel Jesus, 25, this summer.

Odegaard believes the current squad has “already experienced a lot” and describes his younger team-mates as “big, big talents”.

He gained significant experience from a young age, becoming Norway’s youngest-ever senior international when he made his debut, aged 15 years 253 days, in a friendly against the United Arab Emirates in August 2014, four months after his senior club debut with Stromsgodset in his homeland.

He joined Real Madrid in 2015 and also spent time on loan at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad before joining Arsenal in 2021.

Odegaard says he has played “a lot of games on a high level” and can “share that experience” with his team-mates.

He said: “I feel more confident and more calm on the pitch so I just try to use that in a good way and do what’s best for the team.

“I think here everyone expects you to take that leadership even if you’re young.

“That brings the best out of the young guys coming through, so definitely I think everyone here feels like they need to be on their best and they need to take part of and take ownership of everything we do.”

Arsenal, who missed out on a Champions League spot after finishing fifth in last season’s Premier League, are currently on a pre-season tour in the United States, with games against Orlando City and Chelsea this week.

Odegaard added: “I know we have a big fanbase here and a big support so it’s nice to come here and to play in front of them and then and hopefully make them happy with the games and give them some good moments.

“When you travel like this, you see how big the club is and then you see the support we have all over the world.”

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