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Martin Odegaard’s ‘ruthless’ claim sheds light on David Luiz contract situation

Martin Odegaard has shed light on Mikel Arteta’s dilemma over David Luiz – by claiming the Arsenal defender is ‘ruthless’ in training.

Luiz’s contract expires this summer, and Arteta must decide whether to hand the veteran centre-back a new deal for next season.

The 33-year-old brings years of Premier League experience and is a former title winner with Chelsea – but his campaign has also at times been blighted by the kind of enforced errors that have dogged him through his career.

Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn has urged Arteta to keep Luiz around for another season so his young players can learn from the Brazilian.

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And 22-year-old midfielder Odegaard has outlined the role his team-mate plays as a leader within the squad.

David Luiz of Arsenal high fives Arsenal Head Coach Mikel Arteta after the FA Community Sheild match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on August 29, 2020 in London, England.
David Luiz is a regular starter under Mikel Arteta, but the manager must weigh up whether to hand him a new contract

Asked to name Arsenal’s best defender, the on-loan Real Madrid man replied: “I would say David Luiz.

“When you see him in training everyday, he’s a great person, a great leader of the team and he’s very important for us.”

The attacking midfielder said Luiz is a pleasure to have around the squad – but insists he always means business when it’s time to get on the pitch.

“He’s a great guy, happy and smiling, making jokes. But when we’re on the field then it’s another face on,” said the Norway international.

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Martin Odegaard, pictured at Norway's team hotel, has given his verdict on Arsenal team-mate David Luiz
Martin Odegaard, pictured at Norway’s team hotel, has given his verdict on Arsenal team-mate David Luiz

“That’s what I admire most about him, when he goes onto the pitch, he changes his mentality to be completely focused and to be ruthless.

“He’s not a nice guy any more!”

Odegaard has impressed since joining Arsenal on loan in January, thriving in the team along with fellow rising stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

But he has tipped another young player for a big future after watching 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli close up in training.

“Obviously we have Bukayo and Emile and they are already playing a lot, but one guy who hasn’t played that much lately is Gabriel Martinelli.

“When you see him training every day, he’s a really talented player with a lot of qualities, so I think definitely he’s one for the future.”

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