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Odegaard, Aouar, Maddison - Which playmaker should Arsenal sign?

:Headline: Odegaard, Aouar, Maddison - Which playmaker should Arsenal sign?:
Sports Mole assesses which playmaker Arsenal should sign out of Martin Odegaard, Houssem Aouar and James Maddison.
Sports Mole

Arsenal's search for creative reinforcements in the summer transfer window is yet to bear fruit, with the only number 10 to sign on the dotted line being Emile Smith Rowe as he penned his long-term contract extension.

Tying the 21-year-old down to a new deal was an imperative bit of business from the Gunners, but Smith Rowe cannot be expected to do it all on his own, in spite of the fact that his introduction turned Arsenal's 2020-21 season around for the better.

A plethora of number 10s have been tipped to complete a permanent switch to the Emirates Stadium, but Mikel Arteta's search now appears to have boiled down to three options - Martin Odegaard, Houssem Aouar and James Maddison.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at the three players and which one Arsenal should prioritise a move for this month.

Martin Odegaard

There is no better way to endear yourself to the Emirates faithful than by scoring in your first appearance against Tottenham Hotspur, and Martin Odegaard did exactly that following his arrival on a six-month loan from Real Madrid.

Being handed the captain's armband for Norway at just 22 years of age is a testament to Odegaard's professionalism and talent, but in a six-month spell at Arsenal, he played more games for the Gunners (20) in all competitions than he has done during his six years at Real Madrid (11).

Odegaard may have only chalked up two goals and two assists during his time in North London, but his pass success rate of 90.9% last term is the highest out of the three players on this list, while he was also dispossessed on the fewest number of occasions in the league.

For a short while, it appeared that Arsenal's hopes of signing Odegaard permanently were dead in the water, as the playmaker posted a fond farewell message to the Gunners on social media before returning to Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti.

However, recent reports have claimed that Arsenal's pursuit of Odegaard could be back on, and with the Norwegian now having less than two years left to run on his Real Madrid deal, an offer of £42.5m could supposedly be entertained by Los Blancos.

Houssem Aouar

Lyon could afford to drive a hard bargain for Houssem Aouar last term, and with Arsenal failing to fork out the £44m that Juninho and co were after, Aouar remained at the Groupama Stadium to play a key role in his side's Ligue 1 campaign.

Featuring 30 times in league action under Rudi Garcia last term, Aouar and the rest of the Lyon squad would have ended the season with Ligue 1 winners' medals around their necks if they managed to maintain their early-season form, but Lyon ultimately had to settle for fourth and a spot in the Europa League.

Speculation surrounding Aouar's future has not gone away following the club's ultimately disappointing finish, and his goal threat was evident throughout the season, as Aouar banked seven goals and set up three more in the top flight.

While not recognised as Lyon's creator-in-chief - that torch has been passed to Lucas Paqueta - Aouar was never afraid to have a pop at goal, averaging 2.3 shots per game, and his rate of 1.5 dribbles per game was far higher than that of Maddison or Odegaard, both at 0.9.

Playing in a slightly deeper role also saw Aouar register more interceptions than his fellow midfielders, and a pass success rate of 86% is also respectable. With the France international also due to become a free agent in 2023, a fee just north of £20m could be enough to secure the services of a player who is reportedly holding out for a move to North London.

James Maddison

Proven Premier League quality, James Maddison may not have been involved in England's run to the Euro 2020 final due to injury woes, but the former Norwich City man is set to turn heads once again this term.

Having taken no time at all to settle into the top flight, Maddison enjoyed his most prolific Premier League campaign to date last term - banking eight goals and seven assists in league action - and he also ended an injury-hit season with the first trophy of his career in the form of the FA Cup.

The 24-year-old has said himself that he is always on the hunt for more goal contributions - music to the ears of Arsenal fans - and the Leicester man also out-performed Aouar and Maddison in shots, key passes and tackles per game during the 2020-21 season.

Maddison is also never afraid to have a crack from distance and also drew 1.8 fouls per game in the 2020-21 Premier League season, making it understandable to see why Leicester have supposedly slapped a £70m price tag on his head, especially with his deal not due to expire until 2024.

The Gunners have allegedly already seen a proposed player-plus-cash deal turned down by Brendan Rodgers's side, and the Foxes boss has affirmed that the club have no need to sell their most prized assets, leaving Arsenal with plenty to ponder in the coming weeks.


Aouar is the cut-price option, Maddison is the luxury option, and Odegaard is the sentimental option. While many Gooners would be happy to see a move for the latter materialise, the chance to make a name for himself at the Bernabeu is surely too good to ignore, but he will look back on his time in North London with fondness.

Gone are the days of Arsenal being frugal in the transfer market - evidenced by a £50m move for Ben White - but it is extremely difficult to see the Gunners hierarchy sanctioning a £70m for Maddison, even though he is arguably the standout option on this list.

It is not just the number 10 role that Arsenal must prioritise - a new right-back and striker could also be on the agenda depending on departures - so if reports of Aouar wanting to move to the Emirates are to be believed, all signs point towards a cut-price deal for the in-demand Frenchman.

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