Real Madrid's Martin Odegaard: Victimised by Media's Confirmation Bias

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentApril 20, 2015

Norway international soccer player Martin Odegaard, left,  poses with Real Madrid's representative Emilio Butragueno, during his official presentation in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, after signing for Real Madrid. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Real Madrid's Norwegian central attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard, 16, is no longer the media darling.

There is a distorted narrative being concocted about Odegaard which will be presented front and centre whenever he faces adversity. 

How Money Is Used Against Odegaard

One essential element to the Odegaard media coverage is money, as illustrated by cartoonist Omar Momani.

During the 2015 January transfer window, Real Madrid signed Odegaard from Stromsgodset for 3/£2.3 million, which is not a clickbait-like fee.

What media outlets did was alter their headlines to include an insanely high weekly salary.

"Sixteen-year-old Norwegian will be paid whopping £80,000 a week," per the Associated Press (h/t the Daily Mail).

"[Odegaard] has reportedly been handed an £80,000-a-week salary. Wow," per Jamie Sanderson at Metro.

Is this a Freddy Adu situation? No.

Understand that Odegaard's leverage was nowhere near as high as Adu, who at 14 years of age became the highest paid footballer in Major League Soccer, per Grant Wahl at Sports Illustrated.

MLS believed Adu was a Michael Jordan-like game-changer for football, a minority sport in the United States, from a commercial and performance basis.

Odegaard is just another prospect, albeit one with more hype, who is trying to make the grade at Real Madrid, the 10-time European Cup/UEFA Champions League winners.

If you believe the figures bandied about, then Odegaard is earning €110,763/£80,000 a week, which equates to an annual salary of around €5.8/£4.2 million.

Crazy, right? 

Having been burned by the potential of Alipio Duarte and Javier Portillo, logic tells you Real Madrid would not bank on Odegaard's hype to pay him outlandish wages for a third-division footballer.

Key phrase being third-division, or Segunda Division B to drive home the point.

Morten Stokstad at Verdens Gang tweeted that the English media misreported Odegaard's salary.

Morten Stokstad @mortenstokstad

Sportsdir J. Flo and agent Tore Pedersen not happy with english media claiming Martin Ødegaard to earn £80 000 a week http://t.co/x8fof35seh

A believable (though, still inflated) figure is Odegaard earning €45,000/£32,400 a week, per The Local Norway.

It means Odegaard's estimated annual salary is €2.3/£1.7 million-a-year at Real Madrid, which is in the ballpark of what Bayern Munich guaranteed, per Jose Felix Diaz at Marca

[Odegaard] would start his first [Bayern Munich] contract year on €1 million [£719,923], which would increase up to €2.5 [£1.8 million].


No other team has come close to matching Bayern Munich's offer, and as far as Real Madrid are concerned, they have no intention of entering a bidding war against the Munich-based outfit.

Goal UK @GoalUK

EXCLUSIVE: Odegaard who? Bayern Munich lure teenage wonderkid Trograncic to Germany http://t.co/fEg1Do4Z5W http://t.co/Pw70o7m6rU

When you realise several media outlets have overvalued Odegaard's salary, then it is clear to see how his wealth is used against him to form another pejorative storyline.

"Martin Odegaard's sky-high salary causes jealousy in Real Madrid Castilla squad," per Sport.

The only attributable quote is from Sergio Aguza.

"[Odegaard's salary doesn't] bother me," Aguza said, per Sport. "But I'd also like to be up there and earning what they say he's getting."

Aguza was speaking about his salary, not criticising Odegaard.

It is natural to desire being overpaid rather than underpaid.

Sport were deceitful to omit Aguza's comments about welcoming Odegaard to the team.

"We'll have to help [Odegaard] ease in like the other foreign players," Aguza said, per Jamie Kemp at Inside Spanish Football. "He's a very talented player, but he also needs time."

When it comes to Odegaard's money, certain media outlets have created a garbled storyline.

It preys on you framing the information in context with Real Madrid being luxurious spenders and the premature coronation of Odegaard as a Lionel Messi-esque, once-in-a-generation talent.

Rudi Gundersen @Rudisign

Huge day for Martin Ødegaard and Norwegian football. Can't wait to see this kid in the future @martinio98 #2fx http://t.co/PMlGNT6Ln7

Odegaard Hatchet Job

It is important that you don't take everything the media says about Odegaard at face value.

"Martin Odegaard has endured a tough start to life at Real Madrid, and Goal Spain understands that members of the club's Castilla squad were unhappy with the level of publicity generated by his arrival in the Spanish capital," per Alberto Pinero at Goal.

Pinero's report gives you the impression that Odegaard is persona non grata at Real Madrid Castilla.

Alvaro Medran and Marcos Llorente have hung out with Odegaard. Noblejas has two pictures on Twitter, one of them being with Odegaard.

J.NOBLEJAS @Noblejas23

A las 18h Castilla vs Leioa. Ready for the game @martinio98 http://t.co/bygVPR6AHU

You must be cognisant of stories based on anonymous sources as you do not know if it is a majority or minority opinion.

By saying "a Madrid source also dismissed any notion of regret at Odegaard's arrival," Pinero balanced out his article, but unwittingly unveiled a gaping hole in his story.

Let's say two Real Madrid Castilla players have an axe to grind.

It is not representative of the entire squad's feelings towards Odegaard.

"Odegaard has refused to train with the reserves and only joins in with training sessions on the eve of the team's games," per Frederic Hermel at AS.

What a redundant sentence.

"[Odegaard] and his father seek refuge in the clause included his contract with Madrid which stipulates that the club must ensure that he trains with the senior squad five days a week," Frederic Hermel at AS.

Hermel has provided a rebuttal to, uh, himself.

"Regrettably, some players have complained that [Odegaard] 'can't be bothered' with his Castilla team mates and is only interested in being alongside Cristiano Ronaldo," the article also noted.

You would begrudgingly accept Hermel's petty point if as an act of solidarity, the Real Madrid Castilla players did not document their experiences with the first team.

But they don't—they flaunt it.

"Martin Odegaard has become a problem for Zinedine Zidane. The Norwegian still doesn't fit in at Castilla and Real Madrid's reserve side seem like a different team (i.e. better) without him," per Carlos Forjanes at AS.

"Zidane has surprised us by leaving Odegaard, Castilla's Norwegian Galactico, out of the side ... I applaud Zidane for doing that," per Alfredo Relano at AS.

Instead of blaming Odegaard, AS should scrutinise Zidane's tactical nous and how he has limited the Norwegian from making a positive first impression.

In 1999, Zidane was "not considered essential to the tactics of Carlo Ancelotti" at Juventus, per Corriere dello Sport (h/t Jon Brodkin and Michael Walker at the Guardian).

Ancelotti could have washed his hands of Zidane but elected to change to complement the French star.

"I had an identity which I put on my teams. I didn't look at the characteristics of my players," Ancelotti said, per Mark Fleming at The Independent. "It changed at Juventus [as] Zidane didn't want to play on the left, but in the centre ... now I look at the skills and characteristics of my players."

It is an indictment on Zidane's managerial ability that he has failed to get the best out of Odegaard, who was rated Tippeligaen's second best footballer as a 15-year-old, per Verdens Gang.

The round-the-clock negative press of Odegaard implies he has ego issues and is conflicting with Zidane, but Guillem Balague at Bleacher Report denies this is the case: "There is no problem with the attitude of [Odegaard] at all." 

AS awarded Odegaard no rating in Real Madrid Castilla's 1-1 draw against Tudelano, per Sport Witness.

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

Problems continue for Odegaard, no mark from AS and subbed off, they reckon Castilla perform better without him. http://t.co/u2Z8uRGmlZ

AS again?!

Odegaard is to AS what Barack Obama is to Fox News.

You need to be able to identify fact, fiction and half-truths when the media reports on Odegaard, because the coverage at times can be heavily biased against him.


When not specified, statistics via WhoScored.com.