Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez has gone through a philosophical renaissance over the last decade.
The Spaniard, who once took pride in prizing away some of the most sought-after players in the world, is now a happy advocator of the youth academy.
Instead of going after world-class superstars, Real Madrid are now happy to put in the time themselves and help fulfil the potential of the young talents they recruit.
A bunch of players have come and gone since Perez’s change of heart.
However, if we had to scour for the foundation rock, we’d need to roll the calendar back to January 2015 and focus on the arrival of a 16-year-old midfielder from Norway.
At €4 million, Real Madrid would’ve easily found themselves a half-decent midfielder from a mid-table club.
However, their ambition to develop their own superstar allowed teen sensation, Martin Odegaard, to make his dream move to the Spanish capital.
The story since
The 16-year-old, who landed in Madrid with a hefty price tag, was only 15 when he made his Norway senior team debut, and thoroughly impressed his manager with precise touches and intelligent movements.
At Real Madrid, however, no one cared about international performances and sky-high potential.
They needed to see the boy in flesh and blood to believe and put faith in his abilities.
Despite being registered as a Real Madrid Castilla player, Odegaard spent most of his time training with the senior team.
The divisive schedule made it difficult for him to focus on either team, which eventually took a toll on his performances for Castilla.
After a winless run of four games, the player was omitted from the Castilla squad altogether.
Fortunately, then-first-team coach, Carlo Ancelloti still had faith in the young Norwegian and handed him a call-up to the senior side.
On 23rd May, Odegaard made his Real Madrid debut, coming on as a 58th-minute substitute for the team’s highest scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, in a 7-3 win over Getafe.
The debut made him the youngest player — 16 years and 157 days — to don the iconic Real Madrid kit. He made his full debut for the senior side almost two years after he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu, in a 6-1 Copa del Rey win over Cultural Leonesa.
The Castilla appearances weren’t enough to buy him a ticket to the senior side.
After rounds of discussion, Odegaard was loaned out to Dutch club SC Heerenveen in the winter transfer window of 2017.
Upon completing his spell at Heerenveen, he was loaned out once again in the following summer transfer window; this time to Vitesse.
Following an impressive spell with the Dutch club, Odegaard earned the right to return to Spain, albeit not where he’d hoped.
So near yet so far
Top four aspirants, Real Sociedad signed Martin Odegaard on loan at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and the player has been an absolute revelation for them since.
He has been the orchestrator of almost every glorious passage of play that La Real have produced.
Playing primarily as an attacking midfielder, Odegaard has managed to rack up seven goals and eight assists, emerging as one of their most decisive players.
The 21-year-old has also excelled on the creative front and currently averages 2.1 key passes per match — an impressive return for a young La Liga player.
As per recent reports, Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane, was eager to bring Martin Odegaard back to the Spanish capital next season.
However, due to the economic stagnation of the post-pandemic market, Real Madrid is now contemplating extending his loan spell at the Basque country.
The emergence of Fede Valverde has allowed Real Madrid to put their plans for Odegaard on hold and allow him to excel at an elite club.
With Luka Modric and Isco still going strong, Zidane doesn’t believe he’ll be able to offer Odegaard the game time he craves.
The Frenchman still has plenty of faith in the player, but for the time being, Odegaard is still not deemed good enough to be an integral part of Los Blancos.