Arsenal eye ex-Liverpool transfer target Nabil Fekir as they prepare for all eventualities in race to sign Martin Odegaard permanently from Real Madrid

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Arsenal are keeping tabs on former Liverpool transfer target Nabil Fekir but are still intent on bringing in Martin Odegaard permanently this summer.

The Norway international has improved the Gunners’ attack considerably since his arrival on loan in January and remains their first choice in the market.

Odegaard celebrates his goal against Tottenham earlier in March

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Odegaard celebrates his goal against Tottenham earlier in March

The Premier League side, though, are planning for all eventualities and are eyeing Real Betis attacking midfielder Fekir, who nearly joined the Reds in 2018.

According to Goal, despite the player having a £77million release clause in his contract, the financial situation in Spain means he should be available at a cheaper price, possibly around £26m.

Fekir almost signed for Liverpool, only to see the deal fall through at the very last and his former agent Jean-Pierre Bernes claimed it was nothing to do with any injury concerns.

He told L’Equipe in 2019: “The knee was a part of it, but not only that. He had passed a medical, done photos with the Reds shirt.”

Fekir has 25 caps for France and has spent two seasons in LaLiga

AFP

Fekir has 25 caps for France and has spent two seasons in LaLiga

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will, though, be going in for Odegaard as a priority having seen him first-hand this season.

His 12 appearances, both domestically and in the Europa League, have impressed, while he’s endeared himself to the support even more with a goal in their north London derby win over Tottenham.

But, it is still unknown whether Odegaard’s parent club Real Madrid will want to let the 23-year-old leave the club, while it’s also not known how Arsenal will be set financially going into the 2021/22 season, particularly when there is a chance they may not qualify for any European competition.

With the likes of Saka, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli and now Odegaard at the club, Ray Parlour says the future is bright for Arsenal under Arteta

Speaking about Odegaard’s impact after the 3-3 draw with West Ham, Arteta said: “I think he had an incredible performance,” Arteta said. “I think he was very intelligent the way he read the game, the way he affected the game and again he showed how much he wanted to win.

“When everyone was a little trembling he gave us that stability and that composure on the ball and he created chance after chance. He’s been showing that, I think, from week one. The way he steps on the pitch, he always wants the ball, the way he commands the pressing. He’s been really influential.

Arsenal are believed to be keen on keeping Odegaard

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Arsenal are believed to be keen on keeping Odegaard

“I think we’ve all been a bit surprised because he looks really shy and humble, but when he steps on that pitch he’s a real character and he loves to play football.”

And Odegaard has returned the compliments to his current coach.

Asked about the Spaniard, he said: “Amazing! He is a really, really good coach, really intelligent, [knows] all the details in the game.

“He’s a master of seeing the details. And the way he’s coaching us and helping us to achieve things, we’re lucky to have him.

“So many things to learn [from him], and as I said, about the details, that’s something I really like and I find it interesting. So, yeah, it’s very nice to have him as a coach.”

Whether the mutual adoration will result in a summer transfer, though, remains up in the air.





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