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Odegaard fights ‘losing battle’ with comparisons to Messi, says Arsenal boss Arteta


The Spaniard is delighted to be able to call on the young playmaker’s services, but warns he is not at the same level as the Argentine

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said new loan signing Martin Odegaard will still fight a losing battle against Barcelona great Lionel Messi but believes the Norwegian has the qualities to thrive with the Gunners .

Real Madrid caught Stromsgodset’s Odegaard as a teenager, shutting down the striker on loan at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad before giving him the chance to be part of Zinedine Zidane’s squad this season.

The minutes had been hard to come by under the guidance of the French head coach, however, and the 22-year-old thus had the chance to shine in north London.

Arteta is excited about the prospect of having Odegaard at his disposal, having seen the youngster grow into a more complete player over the years, but said early comparisons with Messi are always going to fall short of target.

“I wouldn’t even be close to that name you just mentioned [Messi] because it’s a losing battle in my opinion. Martin is Martin, ”Arteta said of the Arsenal v Manchester United game on Saturday.

“He’s such a talent. He needs the right environment, a little time, but he has what it takes to be successful for us. He’s a specialist to play in the pockets, to be in positions number eight, number 10.

“He knows how to play on the sides, a really creative player, really comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, the ability to create chances, to score goals.

“He improved his pace of work without a ball a lot as well. This is another option to give us more creativity in the last third. It certainly has all the qualities and characteristics that we are looking for.

“Then it would be two things – first, how well he adapts here and what impact he can have in our squad, and second, what Real Madrid and the player think about it because he belongs at Real Madrid. and the player has a say in it.

“I just wanted to give him a clear picture of who we are as a club, what we’re trying to do, what we expect from him, just try to convey the passion and excitement that we must have brought him .

“I wanted to show him the project, how it fits and just try to persuade him that this is the right place for him and try to make things work.”

Whether Odegaard will appear against United remains to be seen, but the squad as a whole will likely be supported by the fact that the Red Devils’ 13-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League was put on hold by Sheffield United on Wednesday.

Arteta took the time to praise Chris Wilder’s outfit despite his modest position in the league and warned not to underestimate a Manchester United side looking to bounce back from a shock defeat.

“It’s no surprise because beating any team in this league is extremely difficult and it’s not taken for granted,” Arteta said of the Blades’ 2-1 result at Old Trafford.

“Sheffield United are a very good threat and you see it. They lost games they didn’t deserve to lose.

“I think every game is completely different, [Man United] having the ability and the quality to beat any team in the world, we know we’re going to have to be at our best.

“The games are huge, we have to be better than we were on Tuesday (a 3-1 win at Southampton) to beat them.

“They are in top form. They were at the top of the table playing really well. We know they are a real threat. We have to be at our best to beat them on Saturday.