CELTIC have been linked with some sort of move for Martin Ødegaard ever since Ronny Deila became manager at Parkhead.
Real Madrid’s acquisition of the teenager in January 2015 ended Celtic’s hopes of a permanent deal for the former Stromsgodset midfielder.
But with the Norwegian starlet likely to be sent out on loan for the 2015/16 season, Celtic’s interest has been revived, with reports in Spain suggesting the Hoops have made a tentative offer to take the 16-year-old on loan, with a number of Spanish clubs also in the running.
But why would Ødegaard benefit from a season in Scotland? Here are seven possible reasons...
1. Ronny Deila’s influence
MANAGER at Stromsgodset before joining Celtic, it was Deila who gave a 15-year-old Ødegaard his first-team debut.
The youngster said in June last year that he would relish the chance to link up with Deila again, and credits him with making him the player he is today.
Ødegaard said: “[Deila] spent a lot of time one on one with me. He was always giving me advice and has been so important to my development as a footballer.
“If I could work with Ronny again that would be great. Maybe it’s possible. This is football, everything is possible.”
2. European football
DESPITE his move to Real Madrid, Ødegaard has fewer than 30 top-flight first-team appearances under his belt, having turned out 24 times for Godset and once for Real Madrid’s first team.
He has played 11 games for Real Madrid’s ‘B’ team Castilla since joining the Spanish giants but is still short on experience.
If Ødegaard was to join Celtic on loan, he would gain plenty of experience playing in league matches but also in Europe, where he could test himself against top European opponents - crucial for his future at Real Madrid.
3. Strengthen the Celtic squad
RONNY Deila is looking to strengthen the Celtic squad, and has already brought in defensive pair Dedryck Boyata and Saidy Janko.
The Hoops have also been linked with Dundee United striker Nadir Ciftci as they seek to bolster their squad ahead of their assault on Europe.
The signings of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven in January helped the Hoops strengthen their attacking prowess, and with Ronny Deila’s preference for a 4-2-3-1 formation, it’s likely that the left-footed Ødegaard would play on the right, mirroring his role at Godset - but crucially, the 16-year-old can play in any role behind the forwards.
4. Game time
ALTHOUGH reports from the Bernabeu suggest Rafa Benitez is keen for Ødegaard to remain in Madrid, making a move to Getafe or Rayo Vallecano all the more likely, game time could be a factor.
Ødegaard has also been linked with Villareal, Real Betis and Malaga, as La Liga’s top clubs battle to land the starlet on loan.
But with Villarreal angling for trophies, the Norwegian youngster could find first team chances limited, and while Betis - promoted after winning the Segunda Division last season - are well-coached and have a huge following, the pressure to perform could prove pivotal.
Castilla’s slide in form and subsequent failure to win promotion from the third tier of Spanish football coincided with Ødegaard’s arrival, amid rumours of discontent at the fact the 16-year-old was training with the first team but playing matches with the second-string side.
Ødegaard would almost certainly get game time at Malaga, Rayo Vallecano and Getafe, with the latter two allowing him to settle in to life in Madrid - but without the added draw of European football.
5. His father
HANS-Erik Ødegaard’s joined Real Madrid as a youth coach at the same time his son joined the Galacticos and Ødegaard’s Sr’s involvement in his son’s career prompted Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to warn the 16-year-old to ‘cut ties’ with his father and ‘become a man’.
Ødegaard’s Sr will no doubt be aware of Ronny Deila’s effect on his son’s progress, and could nudge Ødegaard’s Jr in the direction of Glasgow if he feels a loan spell in Scottish football could benefit the youngster.
6. International opportunities
ØDEGAARD has already made six appearances for Norway, most recently in a friendly match against Sweden last month.
Included alongside the likes of Stefan Johansen, Per Ciljan Skjelbred, Alexander Tettey and Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Ødegaard’s was picked ahead of players such as Morten Gamst Pedersen, Christian Grindheim, Ruben Yttergård Jenssen and Henning Hauger - all players who could potentially displace the youngster in the international squad.
The emerging talents of Mats Møller Dæhli and Valon Berisha could also threaten Ødegaard’s international place. Regular football with Celtic - a team competing in Europe and in three domestic competitions - could boost Ødegaard’s chances of holding down a place in the Norway side.
7. Stefan Johansen
STEFAN Johansen joined Celtic in 2014, signed by Neil Lennon. There were high hopes for the classy midfielder, who agreed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Hoops.
Impressive enough in his first six months at Celtic, Johansen improved greatly following the arrival of Deila - his former manager at Stromsgodset.
Deila’s masterstroke in pushing the 24-year-old further forward resulted in Johansen bagging the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award for the 2014/15 season.
A former team-mate of Ødegaard, Johansen could sell life in Glasgow to the youngster, who might pick familiarity in his former manager and team-mate, over staying in Spain.