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Martin Odegaard: Arsenal sign attacking midfielder from Real Madrid on permanent transfer

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Norway international Martin Odegaard made 20 appearances for Arsenal during the second half of last season; Odegaard joins for an initial £30m plus bonuses; watch Arsenal vs Chelsea on Sunday, live on Sky Sports from 4pm

Arsenal have completed the signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a permanent deal.

The Norway international, who joins for an initial £30m plus bonuses worth around £4m, was in London on Wednesday undergoing a medical after the two clubs reached an agreement.

The 22-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan with the Gunners after failing to break into the Real Madrid team under Zinedine Zidane, and now returns to the Emirates Stadium on a five-year deal.

He made 20 appearances across all competitions, with one of his two goals coming in the north London derby win over Tottenham in March.

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Asked what the 22-year-old will add to his squad, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said: “A lot of things that he brought last season. He made us better, we needed more options and alternatives for creativity.

“He is still a really young man but he has huge experiences in clubs already and has unique talents for the way we want to play so I am really pleased the club have made the effort.”

Odegaard made his professional debut for Norwegian side Stromsgodset in 2014 as a 15-year-old.

He moved to Real Madrid in 2015 and went on to become their youngest ever player, while he also achieved the same feat for Norway.

However, he struggled for first-team football at Real and was sent on loan to Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad before joining Arsenal.

In six years at the Bernabeu, Odegaard made just 11 appearances for Real Madrid’s first team, and he was not part of new manager Carlo Ancelotti’s plans this season.

Martin Odegaard
Image:Martin Odegaard spent the second half of last season on loan at Arsenal after failing to break into the Real Madrid team

Arsenal are also close to completing a £24m deal for Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, with Arteta saying: “There is still some paperwork but his medical is done, still a few things to sort with Sheffield.”

The fee for the 23-year-old could rise by another £6m in add-ons depending on whether he becomes the Gunners’ long-term No 1.

Ramsdale has been on boss Mikel Arteta’s radar this summer, having originally joined Sheffield United from Bournemouth in 2020.

The Cherries are entitled to a 15-per-cent sell-on fee of anything over £19m.

Ramsdale’s arrival at the Emirates would likely see back-up goalkeeper Alex Runarsson allowed to leave the club.

Ramsdale, capped at U18 to U21 level by England, re-joined Sheffield United last summer in an £18.5m deal from relegated Bournemouth.

He was Sheffield United’s player of the season despite their relegation last term and the same was the case in his final season at Bournemouth in 2019/20.

Ramsdale was part of England’s Euro 2020 squad which reached the final, but is yet to make his full international debut.

‘What’s the plan, Edu?’

Paul Merson criticised Arsenal’s recruitment under technical director Edu in his latest column after their season got off to the worst possible start on Friday Night Football with a 2-0 loss at Premier League new boys Brentford.

“It’s worrying at Arsenal. You’re still thinking: ‘Where are they going?’

“Edu has come in, and the recruitment has been lazy, if I’m being honest. It’s been: ‘Oh, we’ll take Willian on a free… we’ll take David Luiz for cheap.’

“I remember years ago in football, managers were judged on signings. Sometimes I think Arteta is left behind, and I’m not sure how much of a say he has got in all of this.

“Why would you let Joe Willock go? I’m not saying he’s the answer, but he’s come through the club and is going for £25m, that sort of money isn’t going to change Arsenal. It’s not like a Harry Kane or Jack Grealish sale where you get £100m and can rebuild the team.

“But Arsenal are prepared to pay Willian big money. Where is the future in that? It’s quick fixes. Surely Willock is a future player and for the present, and can be involved in the plan.

“Jonny Evans is a good example. I was calling for Arsenal to sign him when he left West Brom – a very good player, who was at Man Utd at the wrong time. He would have been a success. But it felt like Arsenal didn’t sign him because he played for West Brom. ‘How can Arsenal be signing players from West Brom?’

“My question to Edu would be: ‘What’s the plan?'”

After a blockbuster opening weekend of the Premier League we’re gearing up to go again, with Arsenal vs Chelsea a headline fixture and set to feature the Blues’ new striker Romelu Lukaku. Peter Smith is joined by Gerard Brand, Adam Smith, Nick Wright, and Ron Walker to look ahead to another big round of games…

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How AC Milan missed out on Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan

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Afena Gyan scores brace for AS Roma against Genoa

Afena-Gyan makes Serie A record

Afena-Gyan valued at €20m

Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan may be excelling for AS Roma but he could have ended up at rivals AC Milan.

The youngster has risen from the youth side of the Italian giants and taking a spot on the first team where he is in the process of establishing himself as a key cog in Jose Mourinho’s side.

His two goals in AS Roma’s victory over Genoa made him the first player born in 2003 to score in the Italian top flight league.

It has however emerged that Afena-Gyan was once on the books AC Milan and could have had his development in Milan instead of Rome.

Oliver Arthur, the Ghanaian football agent credited with the discovery of the 18-year-old has revealed that Afena-Gyan had trials with AC Milan who were interested in signing him.

Oliver Arthur says the choice of AS Roma as the club for Afena-Gyan was informed by his quest to get a place where the youngster’s development was not going to be impeded.

“He initially had trials at AS Roma, then Sassuolo before going to AC Milan. Milan, just like the other clubs, was very much interested in him. But, we needed to make a decision and look at the best for the player and we settled on AS Roma,” he said Kumasi-based Pure FM.

Oliver Arthur also spoken about how the youngster’s stock has risen since he broke into the first team of AS Roma.

He disclosed that Afena-Gyan is now valued at €20million following his good display for AS Roma.

“It will really be difficult. Very difficult. Range? May be between €15m-€20m. For what he’s done and the abilities he possesses, I think, yes, €20m” he told Angel TV

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Africa to use VAR in World Cup play-offs after Ghana vs South Africa incident

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Ghana defeats South Africa 1-0

South Africa petitions FIFA over penalty in Ghana game

Senegalese referee to be punished by FIFA, says South Africa coach

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used in the final phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Gianni Infantino, the President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has said.

Infantino has disclosed that FIFA and CAF will use the technology in the play-off to improve officiating in those matches.

Speaking at the extraordinary general assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, Egypt Infantino said FIFA is making efforts to enhance the quality of matches and introduction of VAR is one of the measures.

“The final stage of the African World Cup qualifiers will see an improvement in refereeing performance due to the use of VAR,” said Infantino.

The President of CAF, Patrice Motsepe who is a South African refused to comment on the specific case of Ghana versus South Africa but promised an investment in officiating.

“We are going to invest in the competitions because our competitions are everything,” said Motsepe.

“That’s why the announcement that we are making today regarding referees is critically important. Africa have got good referees, and we have got world-class referees. We’ve also got referees who are not so good.

“Then we’ve also got referees who are even further from not so good, but they all try. We want to train them, and also pay them good money and look after them. So that they can make a career out of being referees.”

Ghana defeated South Africa 1-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium on November 14, 2021 via a controversial penalty.

Defender Daniel Amartey earned Ghana the penalty which was converted by skipper Andre Ayew on the 33rd minute.

South Africa took issues with the decision by referee Ndiaye and petitioned FIFA to probe what they perceive to be match manipulation.

According to SAFA, the referee was compromised and thus ruled the game in favour of the host team.

The Ghana Football Association has meanwhile disputed the claims and emphasized the Black Stars deserved victory.

It is expected FIFA will issue a verdict on the game in the coming days.

The draw for the play-off will be held in January next year after the Africa Cup of Nations.

The ten countries that have qualified include Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

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Forget about replay FIFA, will only ban referee Ndiaye Maguette – Hugo Broos

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It appears that head coach of South Africa, Hugo Broos has given up hope of forcing a replay of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana from FIFA.

The Black Stars defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa by a lone goal to secure the only slot in group G for the play offs of the 2022 World Cup.

South Africa after the game accused the match official of match fixing, match manipulation among others before lodging an official complaint with FIFA.

Ghana had a penalty after Daniel Amartey went to ground in the penalty box following a challenge from Rushine De Reuck although it appeared soft there was a nudge in the back of the Leicester City defender.

The Senegalese referee Ndiaye Maguette who was standing just a few meters outside the penalty box swiftly awarded the penalty without any second thought.

FIFA urged the two Associations that is Ghana and South Africa to present any comments or evidence it deems appropriate latest by 20th November 2021 as they referred the protest to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee who began their work on 23rd November,2021.

FIFA is now due to issue a verdict on that appeal which has created friction between Ghana and South Africa in football circles.

Ahead of the verdict, South Africa’s Belgian tactician doesn’t seem confident.

“Fifa met on Tuesday,” Broos told HLN Sportcast. “We expect a decision in the course of this week. It’s not just about the penalty kick, it’s about the whole game. The referee made 71 decisions, 47 of which were foul. The analysis has shown that. And 90 percent of those 47 wrong decisions were against us.”

“You have to be able to prove something like that in black and white. Was he bribed? Wasn’t he pressured? Or was he just having a really bad day? The numbers are there, but is that enough for FIFA? I personally think that it will remain with a suspension for the referee and that we should not count on a replay.” he said.

The draw for the play offs will come off in January while the matches will be played in March 2022.

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