Arsenal are close to completing a loan deal for Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, sources have told ESPN.
The club face stiff competition from several clubs including Real Sociedad and Sevilla but are confident of winning the race after agreeing to Madrid’s terms which included no option to buy the 22-year-old at the end of the season.
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Odegaard originally joined Sociedad on a two-year loan last season but impressed so much that Madrid decided to cut the loan short to given him a chance at the Bernabeu.
However, the attacking midfielder has started just five matches and is seeking a move to guarantee more first-team football.
Sources have told ESPN that Odegaard missed training on Friday and has been given the go-ahead to finalise a loan deal.
Sociedad have not given up hope that he will decide to join them given the positive experience he had at the club but sources have told ESPN that Arsenal feel Odegaard wants to test himself in the Premier League and is favouring a switch to north London.
Talks between Real Madrid and Sociedad has been taking place since December but stalled over a number of issues.
Sociedad wanted an option to make the deal permanent but Arsenal have indicated they are happy to proceed without such an arrangement, reflecting in part the promising emergence of Emile Smith Rowe in a similar position.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has faced criticism over his team’s lack of creativity at times this season and the hope is Odegaard will provide a new injection of flair. The club have identified an attacking midfielder as key target this season.
They failed in a bid for Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar last summer. Lyon are reluctant to sell in this window and with Aouar waiting to see if Real or Barcelona formalise their interest, the Gunners have decided to find a short-term solution and reassess the situation at the end of the season.
Money is also tight at Emirates Stadium as the club feels the effects of COVID-19 but they have freed up space on the wage bill by allowing Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to depart.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have announced the signing of Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan on loan until the end of the season.
Signing for the club you grew up supporting as a kid ✔️ @Arsenal
Buzzing to be beginning this new chapter and will give everything I’ve got to contribute to the first club I ever loved. pic.twitter.com/IUohEjFKVK
— Maty Ryan (@MatyRyan) January 22, 2021
The club were in the market for a back-up goalkeeper after allowing Emiliano Martinez to join Aston Villa for £20 million last summer.
The club then missed out on signing David Raya from Brentford as his replacement and opted instead to bring in Alex Runarsson, who has failed to provide sufficient competition for established number one Bernd Leno.
Third-choice goalkeeper Matt Macey also left to join Hibernian earlier this month leaving Arsenal short of numbers.
Ryan, who will be given the No. 33 shirt, has been registered in time to feature in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Southampton.
“We know Mat very well through his performances with Brighton in recent seasons and he brings additional quality to our squad,” Arteta said.
“Mat has very good Premier League experience and has played over 100 times in the league, which is something that will benefit us greatly on and off the pitch. We welcome Mat to Arsenal and look forward to working with him this season.”