ARSENAL captain Martin Odegaard has declared there are no limits to what the club can achieve with Mikel Arteta as manager – and revealed why he joined the club.
The Norwegian international, 24, has forged an unbreakable bond with the boss he describes as: “Passionate, intense and a bit crazy.”
And he reveals that everything he was promised when he first joined the club from Real Madrid has come true.
With Arsenal currently sitting five points clear at the top of the Premier League, Odegaard says: “I challenge anyone to come away from a meeting with Mikel Arteta and not believe everything he tells you.
“When he speaks to you, you understand that whatever he says will happen, will happen.
“He’s next level. He’s passionate, he’s intense and sometimes, yeah, he’s a bit crazy.
“So if there is anyone who still doesn’t believe in this Arsenal team, take it from me that there are no limits to what we can achieve. No-one can tell me otherwise.”
Odegaard was first lured to Arsenal by Arteta on loan from Real Madrid before making his move permanent in a £30million deal in the summer of 2021.
And even though Arteta was fighting for his job at the time, he was still able to convince Odegaard that his future was in North London.
Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Odegaard recalls: “I spoke to Mikel on a Zoom call and he told me all about the project.
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“Arsenal were not doing well at the time. They were way down in like 15th in the table.
“But he told me his plan, everything he was building towards and he knew exactly what he needed to change at the club.
“He told me all about these amazing young players in the squad – Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe – and he explained how I was going to fit in and improve.
“I got this strong feeling that he was onto something really special. And even when we finished eighth at the end of my first season here, no-one at the club lost faith in what we were doing.
“It was all part of the plan and though we’re in the title race now there is still a long way to go and no one is thinking about May yet.”
Odegaard’s love for Arsenal as a teen may also have played a role in the move.
The midfield maestro has admitted that he’d always play with Arsenal on video game franchise FIFA.
He said: “I’ve always had this weird connection to Arsenal.
“It started long before I signed. I don’t even really know how to explain it, except with one little story.
“I’ve never been that much into video games. I am of that generation that always played outside, but the one exception was FIFA.
“I mostly played Career Mode. You know, where you get to be the manager?
“The club I always chose to manage was Arsenal. They were my FIFA team.
“Growing up in Norway, I watched a lot of Premier League and I just had this good feeling about Arsenal. I’d seen clips of Thierry Henry and the Invincibles.
“I knew the club had a history of developing playmakers like Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Mesut Ozil — really smart, technical players, who were good on the ball and played the difficult passes. My kind of players.
“As I got older, around the 2015 edition, I started actually appearing in FIFA.
“I didn’t look much like me at first. I think I was like a 67 overall, but I was actually in the game and it was a big deal.
“So, naturally, one of the first things I did when I was pretending to be Arsene Wenger on Career Mode was to buy myself.
“Me and Arsenal. It just seemed like a good match in my head.
“That special connection turned into a reality when I signed here two years ago. It was a decision that changed my life around. I come into training smiling every day.
“But my story is definitely not Career Mode. This has been a very different journey to how I imagined it on FIFA.
“In real life, you can’t just select where you want to go and everything will be perfect.”