Martin Odegaard has dealt Arsenal another blow in their bid to sign a creative midfielder this summer after claiming Real Madrid ‘have been clear’ they want him to return.
The 22-year-old joined the Gunners on loan for the second half of the 2020-21 season after becoming frustrated with a lack of minutes under Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta signalled his desire to try and bring the Norway captain – who scored twice and recorded as many assists for the north London outfit in 20 appearances – back to the Emirates Stadium after the final game of the campaign.
Arsenal have already failed in their attempts to sign a creative player in this transfer window after Emi Buendia sealed a £40million move from Norwich to Aston Villa.
But the Gunners now also appear to have had any chances of sealing a return for Odegaard dashed after the midfielder stated it was his ‘dream’ to succeed at Madrid, who have replaced Zidane with Carlo Ancelotti.
‘Real Madrid have been clear that they would like me back. So then it will be time to go there when the training starts up again,’ Odegaard told Norwegian outlet TV2.
‘Of course it has always been a dream to play there.
‘I have been in the club for over six years now, and that has always been the goal. I always want to play, I have said that all the time. Playing hard is important.’
Asked whether he has spoken with the returning Ancelotti, Odegaard added: ‘No, not with him personally, but I have spoken a lot with the club and had a close contact. So I feel they have a good overview.’
The blow could see Arsenal firm up their interest in Leicester City star James Maddison.
Sportsmail understands the 24-year-old is the Gunners’ No 1 target but the Foxes are set to demand at least £70m for him which would make a deal incredibly unlikely.
The Gunners have also been linked with a move for Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir, but they have yet to make a bid for the France international.
The club are also hoping to tie down Emile Smith Rowe to a new deal despite interest from Villa.
Odegaard meanwhile joined Real in 2015 but has been out on loan on four occasions since then, the latest of which saw him enjoy successful spells at LaLiga rivals Real Sociedad before his temporary move to Arsenal in January 2021.
The Norway international has yet to score for Los Blancos, having made a modest 11 appearances since joining six years ago.