Martin Odegaard has said he knew he needed to leave Real Madrid this season for the good of his career but confirmed he still has ambitions of playing for the club in the future.
The Norway international is on loan at Real Sociedad and has enjoyed an impressive start to the 2019-20 season. Odegaard joined Madrid in 2015, although he has made just two appearances for the senior side.
"At the end of last season I felt it wouldn't be good for me to go back to Madrid. For young players, and for me in this moment, it's very important to have playing time. In Madrid, I think it's really hard to get that.
"There are a lot of good players there and huge competition. It was obvious that it's better for me to go on loan, I think the club accepted it too, that's why we decided it so quickly.
"...My objective is still to play for Real Madrid. That's why I signed for them, I want to play there one day. I think I've improved in the past two years. I think I'm a better player and more mature, and stronger."
Odegaard was on the scoresheet in the victory over Atletico, as the Basque outfit moved up to seventh in the table and ended their opponents' perfect start to the La Liga season:
Sid Lowe of the Guardian was impressed with what he saw from La Real and name-checked the 20-year-old as one of their standout players:
In addition to his goal, Odegaard excelled in general play for Sociedad. Operating in a central position, he used the ball well, dribbled forward into dangerous positions and knitted some eye-catching attacking patterns together for Imanol Alguacil's team.
After shining on loan at Vitesse Arnhem last season, Odegaard appears set to take his game on to another level again this term, having netted twice in the Spanish top flight already in 2019-20. At last, the Norwegian appears on course to reaching the levels many anticipated he would when arriving at Real Madrid.
The EiF Soccer account was full of praise for the youngster's efforts in the win over Atletico:
Lucas Navarrete of Managing Madrid said Los Blancos should have considered keeping the midfielder around this season:
The loan was a sensible decision, though, as Odegaard is now getting consistent minutes in La Liga. That playing time, in addition to the fact he's already a key player at Sociedad, will only enhance his development.
There's still a lot of work to do before Odegaard is ready to feature regularly for a team as good as Real Madrid. Those at the Santiago Bernabeu will at least be encouraged to see the player back on the right track after a challenging start to his Madrid career.