Football News

The story of how Barcelona missed out on signing Martin Odegaard

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:53, 7 March 2020

Martin Odegaard’s agent has revealed Barcelona’s transfer ban prevented the club from signing his client before he joined Real Madrid.

Odegaard, 21, was the most sought-after teenager in European football in 2015 after breaking through at Norwegian club Strømsgodset.

The rise of Martin Odegaard: Five key things to know…

  • Martin Odegaard broke through at Norwegian club Strømsgodset.
  • He is the youngest player to feature in Norway’s top division, doing so aged 15.
  • A number of Europe’s super clubs vied for his signature in 2015 with Real Madrid winning out.
  • He’s only made two first team appearances for Real before going out on loan to several clubs.
  • His agent Kent Karlsen says he could have joined Barcelona if not for a transfer ban.

A number of super clubs were vying for his signature and Odegaard had spells training at Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Manchester City as well as visiting Arsenal.

In the end, soon after turning 16 years old, he opted for Spanish giants Real Madrid, initially joining their Castilla side before making two first-team appearances under Carlo Ancelotti and then Zinedine Zidane.

Competition for places, and with a view to his development, saw Odegaard leave for Dutch outfit Heerenveen on loan and the Norwegian forward would temporarily remain in the Netherlands with Vitesse prior to returning to La Liga.

Joining Real Sociedad in the summer, Odegaard has shone this season, registering seven goals and eight assists in 27 matches across all competitions.

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But ahead of Real Sociedad’s match with Barcelona on Saturday, Odegaard’s agent Kent Karlsen revealed he could have been lining up against Imanol Alguacil’s men.

“Barcelona invited us to La Masia,” he told Cadena SER.

“We were talking to [Andoni] Zubizarreta and he also invited us to watch a game at the Camp Nou. I think it was Barcelona-Ajax, so it was a very special night.

“Barcelona are a great club, but Martin [Odegaard] and his father took into account many things before making a decision. They visited many clubs, and in the end chose another.

“The transfer ban worked against Barcelona in their pursuit of Odegaard. If he had accepted their proposal he would have had to stay in Norway for another year, as Barcelona couldn’t sign any players in 2015. In the end [Real Madrid] offered the complete package.

“They had designed a plan for Martin. He would train with the first team. It was a good plan.  Zidane was going to involve him a lot and the whole club presented a great project. In the end he followed his gut feeling.”


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