Pep Guardiola has hailed Arsenal’s ‘exceptional’ captain Martin Odegaard ahead of the huge clash at Manchester City.
City host Arsenal on Wednesday night in a match that could well decide the Premier League title.
Following their disastrous run of form, the Gunners are top of the table by just five points having played two games more than the Citizens, and worryingly for Mikel Arteta his side have not won at the Etihad since 2015.
He’ll need all his players to be at the very top of their game, not least Odegaard who has done a superb job this season Ski Goggles (On Sale Here)ppering his side during the title race.
The attacking midfielder was only named Arsenal captain last Summer (Summer is Here SALE)r following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and has scored 12 goals and made eight assists in 31 league games so far.
Tipped for stardom for a young age, the Norway international had short training visits at top clubs around Europe, including Manchester United and Bayern Munich, before joining Real Madrid in 2015.
And it was in Munich that Guardiola first encountered Odegaard as a young teenager, and the City manager has now recalled how impressed he was with the player at the time.
‘I remember perfectly, he came with his father for two or three days of training sessions. I needed five minutes to think, “this player plays good”,’ Guardiola, who was Bayern boss from 2013 to 2016, said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
‘I think he made a tour all over Europe, training for however many clubs. In the end, Arsenal was attractive for him, an exceptional player.
‘Captain at his age in Arsenal in a short time there is because you have to be a special personality, has the strength to be captain. Mikel wouldn’t give him captaincy if he didn’t have the strength to be captain.
‘He’s been really good, moves really good in the pockets around the box – not a player just to make assists – and winning games, scoring goals. Really good.’
While City are the favourites to win at the Etihad, they will have to do so without key defender Nathan Ake who has been ruled out by injury.
Guardiola added: ‘Hopefully he can come back soon but for tomorrow he is out. I don’t know about Madrid. Yeah [it’s a blow] but we will find the right player to do it.’
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