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Throwback Thursday: When Bayern Munich nearly signed Martin Ødegaard

The Norwegian sensation is bringing the No. 10 position back...for Arsenal.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

He’s Arsenal’s midfield maestro now. A Norwegian prodigy, pulling the strings for the Premier League leaders and bringing back the modern number 10. But once upon a time, Martin Ødegaard was square in Bayern Munich’s sights.

Back in 2015, Pep Guardiola was still Bayern coach. In that role, he attempted to enlist former footballer and current pundit Jan Åge Fjørtoft — who later recounted that Guardiola declared to him, “You have to bring him to Bayern, I’ll make him the best player in the world.”

Fjørtoft at the time retorted that Guardiola was not long for Bavaria himself — and that would prove true. It was to be the Spaniard’s final season with the Rekordmeister before departing for Manchester City, where he now has Ødegaard’s international teammate Erling Haaland leading the line.

We covered Bayern’s transfer pursuit of the Norewegian extensively at BFW.

Ødegaard (whose name is pronounced more like “oh-de-GORE”) would remain on a series of loan adventures from Real Madrid. His fortunes really picked up with the final of those, a spell at Arsenal FC under Pep protégé Mikel Arteta which became permanent. MØ would prove a more than worthy successor to MÖ — Mesut Özil, the mercurial German playmaker who had defined the number ten role for a generation.

Bayern, meanwhile, have chugged along as Bayern do. Thomas Müller has defied time and more than one skeptical manager to remain the irrepressible Raumdeuter, and youngster Jamal Musiala has emerged as the man to take his mantle in attacking midfield. Destiny is a funny thing — and it’s fun to imagine what might have been had these entwined threads unrolled a little differently.

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