SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

When Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard trained with Liverpool – and held Klopp talks!

Martin Odegaard once proclaimed Liverpool was his “dream club,” and he had a taste of life as a Red when he trained with the club in 2014.

As a young teenager, Odegaard’s signature was highly sought after with the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Man United all making attempts to lure him their way.

As of one Europe’s hottest prodigies, Odegaard enjoyed a whirlwind tour of Europe’s top clubs as he looked for one that would facilitate his development after signing his first professional contract.

In 2014, Liverpool were one of the stops for the then 15-year-old, who admitted he was a Reds fan, just like his father.

“Liverpool have always been my dream club,” Odegaard told German outlet Sport Bild in 2014. “But I will not let this affect my decision when I choose a new club.

“It’s all about finding the team that is best for me and for my development. That is not necessarily Liverpool.”

In December 2014, the Norwegian prodigy and his father spent three days in Liverpool being shown around the club’s facilities before enjoying a training session at Melwood with the first-team.

Brendan Rodgers was manager at the time and Odegaard rubbed shoulders with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho – the latter of whom was spotted out for dinner with the midfielder during his visit.

Meanwhile, Kolo Toure, who was approached outside of Melwood, offered a concise verdict the same day he spent time on the pitch with the teenager, saying he was a “very good player.”

Liverpool were tipped as being in “pole position” for Odegaard, who had captured the footballing world’s attention after becoming the youngest-ever player to play in a European Championship qualifier earlier that same year.

Thriving for Stromsgodset and with the world seemingly at his feet, there was plenty of expectation on Odegaard’s young shoulders.

And Jurgen Klopp was one of many managers who sat down with Odegaard and his father in 2014 while at the helm at Dortmund, but even he was knocked back.

“I spoke to him when he was 15 from Norway, when the whole world wanted him, and he decided for Real Madrid,” Klopp told reporters in late 2022.

“I remember as if it would have been yesterday. We sat on a table with his dad and we were all so excited.”

 

What happened next?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Arsenal's captain Martin Ødegaard applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite the attempts to schmooze him their way, Liverpool did not secure Odegaard’s signature as he instead opted for Real Madrid just over one month after his trip to Merseyside.

Los Blancos were reported to have paid £2.3 million for the 16-year-old, who was never able to blossom at the Bernabeu.

The midfielder initially played for the club’s reserves and went on to make his first-team debut at just 16 years and 157 days old – Real’s youngest debutant in their history.

But it would prove to be the first of only 11 senior appearances as he was sent on four different loans from 2017 to 2021, the last, at Arsenal, is where he found his place.

Liverpool did make another approach for Odegaard in the summer of 2019, his former manager previously revealed, but, again, nothing came to fruition.

But in the summer of 2021, the Gunners made his loan permanent for an initial £30 million, Odegaard, now 25, has since gone on to be named their club captain and a key cog in their midfield.

A case of what might have been for Liverpool.