Pep Guardiola praises ‘special personality’ Arsenal star ahead of crucial Man City title clash

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Guardiola took a closer look at Odegaard when he was coach at Bayern Munich in 2014.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola shared his admiration for Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard ahead of Wednesday’s title clash at Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola reminisced about his initial impression of a Odegaard when the Norwegian visited top European clubs, including Bayern Munich, where Guardiola was the coach before he ultimately joined Real Madrid in December 2014.

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“I remember perfectly, he came with his father for two or three days of training sessions. I needed five minutes to think, ‘this player plays good’,” Guardiola told a press conference ahead of Manchester City’s top-of-the-table clash against the Gunners.

“I think he made a tour all over Europe, training for however many clubs. In the end, Arsenal was attractive for him, an exceptional player, captain at his age in Arsenal in a short time there is because you have to be a special personality, has the strength to be captain. Mikel wouldn’t give him captaincy if he didn’t have the strength to be captain.”

Odegaard, who made his debut for Real Madrid at 16, struggled to secure a permanent spot in the team after a series of loans across Europe. He eventually opted to join Arsenal permanently in 2021.

The midfielder has scored 12 goals and provided 11 assists in the Premier League this season, helping Arsenal mount their first serious title challenge in 19 years.

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City boss Guardiola also praised Odegaard’s abilities and leadership, saying, “He’s been really good, moves really good in the pockets around the box – not a player just to make assists – and winning games, scoring goals. Really good.”

Mikel Arteta’s side are five points ahead of City at the top of the Premier League table, but Guardiola’s team have two games in hand over what many expect to be a title decider on Wednesday night.

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