Martin Odegaard Interest Must be Followed Up, But Hype Curtailed

With Liverpool strongly linked with a move for Norway teenager Martin Odegaard this week, Jack Lusby believes Reds must be patient with his talents.

Norwegian prodigy and Liverpool fan Martin Odegaard admits Reds are his “dream club”

Liverpool are reportedly set to steal a march on Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United and sign prodigious young Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard.

The 15-year-old has made waves in Europe this season, after breaking through to the first team of Tippeligaen side Stromsgodset.

The Daily Mirror write that Liverpool “look to be in pole position for the midfielder,” who, as a Reds fan, will surely be enamoured by a recent training session alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard.

Dinner with Philippe Coutinho on Wednesday night will only fuel the fire, and Odegaard can officially make a decision on his next transfer movement when he turns 16, on December 17.

Signing Martin Odegaard would represent good business for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, with a plethora of Europe’s leading clubs interested in the midfielder, but Reds fans must not expect anything from a player so young at this stage.


Martin Odegaard

Serving as a genesis to all Merseyside-based Odegaard expectation, the Liverpool Echo provided a handy profile of the young midfielder after the recent links.

“He doesn’t turn 16 until later this month, but in football terms Martin Odegaard is already a man. And a man in demand.”

They described Odegaard as “an attack-minded midfielder very much in the modern mould. Diminutive, quick-footed, with natural balance, pace and, perhaps surprisingly for one so young, excellent shooting power.”

This is added to by praise from Liverpool’s own Kolo Toure:

In October, Odegaard made his debut for Norway, making himself the youngest player to ever represent the country at senior level, and at just 15, the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championship qualifier.

With the calibre of clubs also linked with the teenager, Liverpool’s potential deal for Odegaard should be considered a coup.


The Future of Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2009: Liverpool players warm-up before the FA Premier Academy League match against Manchester City at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At just 15 years old, there is endless scope for development for a player who is already making a name for himself on the international and European stage.

Signing a player at this age is important for Liverpool, who will be able to mould Odegaard’s talents to their definition—within reason.

With the club’s recent Academy reshuffle, and in particular the appointments of intelligent young coaches Tim Lees and Pepijn Linders, Liverpool are well-primed to hone its historic brand of attacking football from the bottom up.

New Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe’s role is described as “overseeing a style of play that mirrors Brendan Rodgers’ senior team.”

Presenting owners FSG with a much-referenced 180-page dossier during the interview process, Rodgers is clearly manager with a long-term vision and ambition with the club.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 29, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers before the Premier League match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Odegaard can be at the centre of this.

Adding the Norwegian to Liverpool’s current youth prospects could see a formidable future Reds XI in, say, five years’ time; the midfielder could join the likes of Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling in a fluid attacking line.

In this fantasy scenario, Odegaard would be 20 years old, and this should be accounted for in his potential signing. Excessive hype should be curtailed until at least this juncture.


Patience Required

While not quite at Sterling levels yet, the hype surrounding Odegaard since his emergence as one of European football’s most promising young talents has increased rapidly following that Norway debut.

If Liverpool were to sign the midfielder, this would only increase.

The expectation on young players currently at the club—the likes of Sterling, Rossiter and Harry Wilson—is immense compared to that of other Premier League sides.

Rossiter, for example, is regularly feted as a long-term replacement for a waning Gerrard; given the 17-year-old’s roots, this is a claim afforded extra credence by a select group of Merseyside romantics.

As Odegaard has already made over 20 appearances in the Norwegian Tippeligaen and, due to this, will surely, and unrealistically, be expected to make a swift impact on the Liverpool first team.

Even the most creative of Reds wouldn’t assume Premier League pedigree but, given Rossiter and Jordan Williams’ recent Capital One Cup debuts, domestic cup games will surely be earmarked for the young international.

This should be curtailed even at this early stage.

For myriad reasons, promising young players such as Odegaard are never guaranteed to fulfil their potential.

A recent list compiled for Bleacher Report notes how the likes of Ravel Morrison, Ryo Miyaichi and Josh McEachran have so far failed to live up to their early hype.

These failures are arguably due to attitude issues, unsuitability to the league and unrealistic early expectations respectively.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 13, 2014: Liverpool's Lazar Markovic in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s own Lazar Markovic is also listed, with writer Allan Jiang assessing that “to those saying he needs time, then why spend £20 million on him when he is soft, his touch has been off and he is making no impact for Liverpool?”

Markovic is five years older than Odegaard, but stands as a prime example of a player both overhyped and expected too much of too early.

With Martin Odegaard looking increasingly likely to join Liverpool in the near future, both Brendan Rodgers and the Reds’ fanbase must treat this precocious young midfielder with the utmost patience and realism.

Hope he’s another Raheem Sterling, gift him three, four, five years quiet development, and then Liverpool could begin to assess the talents of Martin Odegaard.

How do you feel about potential Liverpool signing Martin Odegaard? Let us know in the comments below.