Few first team coaches know Martin Ødegaard better than Ronny Deila. The young player made his competitive debut under his former manager at Strømsgodset at the tender age of 15, just over a year ago.
He was clearly making an impression before that because he was training with the first team from the age of 13. In 2012 he made his first senior team appearance in a midseason friendly match against Mjøndalen IF.
Within two years of that he would find himself listed in the first team squad. With his then manager Ronny Deila departing for Celtic in June 2014, the relationship would be severed.
Going by recent reports, that coach and player relationship could be rekindled. Is this a move Celtic can really benefit from though?
I’ve never seen the boy kick a ball but it’s obvious he’s got talent. He’s been playing football at levels above his own age group long before he even moved to Strømsgodset.
Whilst a loan move would provide him with the first team football he currently isn’t getting at Real Madrid it’s hard to see who he is going to displace in the Celtic midfield. I’m not suggesting Ødegaard isn’t good enough, but this is not a position Celtic are short of options for right now.
Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, Kris Commons, and his former Strømsgodset colleague, Stefan Johansen are the current central mainstays of the Celtic engine room. Whilst freshness is always welcome, you have to question the validity of a 16 year old coming in temporarily and upsetting the balance that has been achieved over a season.
Celtic must also consider players on their books waiting in the wings and itching to get a game. Young guys like Liam Henderson, Tom Rogić, Dylan McGeouch, John Herron and Jackson Irvine will all be wondering about their own futures as Celtic midfielder’s if 16 year old Ødegaard rocks up at Paradise this summer.
Used sparingly, he might get the experience he needs without disrupting the current midfield too much. If the reports are true though, is Ronny Deila prepared to make sacrifices in his current midfield because of one golden opportunity or is it that this player is actually seen as a key asset for the forthcoming season at home and abroad?
As you might expect, Celtic will not be alone with their interest in the young Norwegian international. Having been courted with other potential suitors before his move to Real Madrid in January, several clubs will now be vying for a season long loan of Martin Ødegaard.
Wherever he ends up, Celtic have a chip in the game. With Ødegaard’s former mentor Ronny Deila at the club and the possibility of Champions League or Europa League football, their is plenty of attraction.
You should never look a gift horse in the mouth but there are other positions to consider filling first for the forthcoming season. If those priorities can be met satisfactorily, I’ll be glad to see this talented young Norwegian don the Hoops, for one season at least.