Captain has signed a new contract and discusses dealing with hard times, what makes Arteta special and the buzz before facing Spurs

“Experience is not just about age,” Martin Ødegaard reflects. “It’s also about what you’ve done.” He is talking about a precocious Arsenal side but, consciously or otherwise, has picked a turn of phrase that could sum up his entire career. Ødegaard does not turn 25 until December but has amassed the experience, good and somewhat more complicated, of a veteran. It has all coalesced to form the Premier League’s best playmaker, a blindingly assured talent who at once radiates freshness and sagacity, and means there was never any doubt surrounding the latest milestone he has passed.

Ødegaard has just signed a new five-year contract at Arsenal, where he is hitting the heights predicted when he was barely in his teens. When he joined on loan in January 2021 there were questions to answer: years of being shipped around by Real Madrid had stifled him and, by his own admission, some of the spark had gone. But Mikel Arteta found a player who had become sufficiently hardened to throw off any baggage, quickly securing him to a longer deal and making him captain the following year. He has put down roots, buying a house close to Arsenal’s base, and the serenity suits him. Player, manager, club and surroundings sit sweetly in harmony and nobody was going to break the spell.

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