It’s been little more than a month into the new season and a 20-year-old has turned heads in Spain.
Martin Odegaard attracted attention at 15 when Real Madrid identified his potential and added him to their ranks.
Los Blancos have sent him on loan every year since, but he arrived in Spain for the first time during his loan stints when he signed for Real Sociedad earlier this season.
The Norway midfielder has notched up two goals and one assist playing every minute this season and has been one of the best players so far.
His contribution transcends simple statistics, so we have collected intricate ones that should give a better overview of what he has brought to La Liga.
We compared the numbers to that of similar players of the same age group across Europe’s top-five leagues.
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina) and Yacine Adli (Bordeaux) are other players under the age of 21 who have made a similar impact at their respective clubs.
These are the top bunch of players this season for their age group:
To gauge the passing abilities of the players, we have graphed the accurate passes to the final third per 90 minutes on the x-axis and key-passes per 90 minutes on the y-axis.
Odegaard leads the chart in key-passes (3.5), with Adli coming a distant second at 2.8 key-passes per 90 minutes. No player from any age group has recorded such numbers in La Liga.
The Norwegian boasts of a high figure of accurate passes to the final third. This is yet another detailed statistic that identifies the player pulling the strings at the edge of the final third.
He has recorded 5.65 passes into the final third per 90 minutes, second only to Adli (7.46). The Frenchman is bound to have excellent numbers because he has played just 222 minutes, compared to Odegaard’s 540.
Sancho is the worst performer in this department with just 1.99 passes to the final third, but this can be attributed to the fact that he prefers to move the play forward by dribbling.
The size of the bubbles is in proportion to the accurate forward passes per 90 minutes. It comes as no wonder that Odegaard (10.92) maintains a large one.
Progressive runs per 90 minutes measure the runs that advance the ball by 10 yards or more and increase the possibility of scoring a goal in the next few seconds. This coupled with successful dribbles per 90 minutes can measure yet another dimension of a player’s skill-set.
We have hence scaled the successful dribbles on the y-axis and progressive runs on the x-axis. It comes as no surprise that Sancho (3.98) is the best dribbler.
We are talking about a generational talent who has already enjoyed an incredible season a top-five league at just18.
Fiorentina starlet Chiesa has recorded 2.52 progressive runs every game. With 3.1 dribbles per game to go with this, he has shown that he is a great carrier of the ball.
Odegaard’s numbers of 2.6 successful dribbles and 1.83 progressive runs are impressive as well. For a player who has topped the passing charts, the Norwegian can pride on being a true jack of all trades with these numbers.
Besides, only three players have recorded more successful dribbles than Odegaard in La Liga.
THE FINAL PASS
The last graph looks at the quantity and quality associated with the final pass that leads to a shot. The y-axis looks at the xA per 90 minutes (Expected assists per 90 minutes) and the x-axis measures the total shot assists per 90 minutes.
The latter provides information on the volume of final passes – passes that lead to a shot – per 90 minutes and the former determines the quality of those passes. A high xA indicates a pass that is more likely to become an assist.
Sancho boasts an incredible xA of 0.39 per 90 minutes and Adli records an impressive 4.13 shot assist per 90 minutes.
It’s interesting to note that Odegaard is in second place in both categories. He assists 2.29 shots ever game and has an xA of 0.22 per 90 minutes.
The Norwegian thus delivers the final pass at a very good rate and of very good quality. His assist to Mikel Oyarzabal in Sociedad’s 3-0 win over Alaves that broke two lines of defence after an incredible dribble is a testament to his ability to deliver the killer pass.
Each player has his unique way of progressing the ball further – some are tremendous passers of the ball and others are effective dribblers. Among the youngsters considered here, Sancho is undoubtedly the most exciting player.
But Odegaard’s numbers show him to be a complete player with a good eye for a pass and the ability to dribble past players. The early signs are promising and the prodigious midfielder could soon prove himself in the big leagues.
Mount and Chiesa are also talented players of similar profile who could explode this season. Adli has recorded incredible numbers but has barely played half the minutes as the other players.
But the small sample set must not take away his inherent talent.
Numbers aside, Odegaard has been a joy to watch this season. The quick movements, turning of defenders and line-breaking passes have lit up La Liga this season and it would not be a stretch to label him the best player in the league at the moment.
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