Martin Odegaard shows true colours in private team meeting without coaches

By Freddie Keighley

Martin Odegaard showed off his leadership ability by holding an emergency meeting with his Norway teammates, according to reports in his homeland.

The Arsenal playmaker is only 22 but was appointed Norway captain in March this year and took matters into his own hands to address recent underwhelming displays.

Norway - who failed to qualify for Euro 2020 this summer - are third in their qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

They were beaten by group-leaders Turkey earlier this year and were subsequently defeated by Greece in a friendly. Meanwhile, Stale Solbakken's side only mustered a 1-0 victory over minnows Luxembourg in June.

Odegaard held a meeting with his Norway teammates due to their sub-par 2021 (Trond Tandberg)

Recent results have been slightly better, with Norway holding Netherlands to a 1-1 and beating Latvia 2-0 during the ongoing international break.

But Odegaard insists there must be further improvement and TV2 claims he held a team meeting without coaches present after Solbakken criticised their disappointing performances this year.

The former Real Madrid wonderkid - who joined Arsenal for £34million last month - is particularly keen to improve Norway's displays in "big matches".

"We spoke completely freely and openly," said Odegaard. "Everyone got to air what they had on their minds.

"We have played many big matches in recent years, but have not managed to solve it optimally all the time. We thought it was good to have a chat about how we avoid making new mistakes.

"We have played many important matches where we have subsequently come and said that we should do this and that.

"This time we thought it was okay that we got to air everything in advance. It was not something revolutionary, we really just had a chat.

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"It was really about what has happened over several years. At least since I joined the national team, we have not been quite where we should be during big matches. I feel the response after the chat was very good."

Odegaard played 90 minutes against Netherlands, picking up a yellow card just after the hour mark, and 88 minutes against Latvia.

Solbakken deployed the Gunners new boy - who made his senior national team debut as a 15-year-old - on the right wing in both fixtures.

The other big name in the Norway squad is Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, and 31-year-old defender Stefan Strandberg admits he has been "hard" on the duo.

"We have been very honest and very hard on each other. I’ve been damn hard on Martin and Erling too," said Strandberg after Saturday's victory over Latvia.

"I’ve said what they have to contribute when they’re as damn good as they are. We’re talking about international stars, so we need them to deliver. And they have really done that, and that raises the whole team."

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