MARTIN ODEGAARD rejected Arsenal as a 15-year-old despite dining with Arsene Wenger and decided to join Real Madrid instead.
The Norwegian was a certified wonderkid at Stromsgodset six years ago and could easily have arrived in North London after being heavily scouted by the Gunners and a host of European giants.
And in an interview with The Times, former youth scout Steve Morrow lifted the lid on his detailed pursuit of current Arsenal loanee Odegaard, 22.
He said: "I first scouted him when he was 14 and was just amazed by his talent, his technical level and his intelligence for such a young player.
"I put a lot of work in, scouted Martin for 18 months and got very close to him and his family.
"We had permission from Stromsgodset to invite the player over and it was down to us and Real Madrid.
"We rolled out the red carpet. He met with Arsene, we took him out for dinner and really showcased the club.
"We had a holistic approach, not only developing the player as a footballer but as a human being and teaching him good values, you’re going to learn how to cook, going to visit hospitals, do stuff in the community.
"Martin massively impressed everyone, including Arsene. We were very, very close to signing him before he made a late decision to go to Real Madrid.
"That was a huge disappointment for me because I thought he was the right fit for us and, more importantly, the right fit for Martin."
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The attacking midfielder was dubbed the Norwegian Messi and was reportedly wanted at Bayern Munich by Pep Guardiola who wanted to turn him into a world-beater.
He was invited to train with the top clubs around Europe, including boyhood club Liverpool, Bayern and Manchester United.
But Odegaard arrived to much fanfare at the Bernabeu for a fee of around £2.3million but had to bide his time playing in the Spanish giants' B team.
He was coached by boss Zinedine Zidane in the Castilla side before being shipped out on loan to gain first-team experience.
Despite making his Los Blancos debut at 16, Odegaard spent time with Herenveen and Vitesse before returning to star in LaLiga with Real Sociedad in the 2019-20 season.
Norway's youngest ever player was recalled and given a couple of early opportunities by Zidane this season before slipping down the Frenchman's pecking order and eventually rocking up at the Emirates.
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