Martin Odegaard has called upon Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus to help him settle into the role of Arsenal captain - and it's working wonders.
The Norwegian midfielder was handed the armband by manager Mikel Arteta at the beginning of what's proven to be a stellar season so far for the Gunners, despite being just 23 years old at the time and only signing permanently for the club 12 months prior. But Odegaard's maturity has helped Arsenal soar to the top of the Premier League table, along with the help of two team-mates.
Similarly to how reigning champions Manchester City 's dressing room operates, Arteta likes to have a leadership group who can support the captain. With forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leaving the club in 2022 after previously being relied on for their experience, former captain Xhaka and £45m summer signing Jesus stepped up to fill void.
According to the Mail, Arteta's decision to hand Odegaard the captaincy is considered an inspired one behind the scenes at the Emirates. Described as one of the 24-year-old's two 'henchman', Xhaka is often the leading voice in the dressing room and was noticeably the most vocal player during the warm-up ahead of this month's North London derby triumph.
Before kick-off, the Swiss midfielder - who was stripped of the captaincy during Unai Emery 's tenure - delivered a rousing dressing-room speech and had the final word before the second half, too. The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against Tottenham Hotspur to go eight points clear of second-placed City, even without Jesus - who they signed from the champions this summer - on the pitch.
Sidelined with a serious knee injury since the World Cup, the Brazilian striker still has an impact at the club by bringing an infectious energy, driving successful habits and helping organise team socials, sometimes involving friends or staff. Sources claim that 'a real shift' has taken place at Arsenal and Odegaard - who also boasts eight goals and five assists this season - has been the catalyst.
It was an eyebrow-raising decision from Arteta to give a 23-year-old creative player the captaincy at such a prestigious club, but the Gunners boss was impressed with Odegaard's personality off the pitch after making his loan move from Real Madrid permanent in August 2021 for a fee which could rise to £35.1million.
"I was hoping that he could show the talent that he has," Arteta recently said of his skipper. "His attitude, his willingness to learn and his application is always incredible. And when you have those ingredients normally good things happen and Martin is in a really good moment. He is defining games, he is having a different kind of presence on the pitch and I really like what he is doing."
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After Odegaard deservedly picked up December's Premier League player of the month award, his Spanish boss - also named manager of the month - maintains that he "can be much better." "I think physically he can still improve in many areas. The way he can drive with the ball and eliminate people more, his crossing, his passing range can still be better," Arteta explained.
"Defensively he is improving every single time. And that mentality to go on the pitch and win the game and have that mentality every three days to go and do that. He is still someone who has come from a very specific development process and now he is at a place where he is a very important player. He is our captain and can still develop a lot."