Martin Ødegaard’s deciding between Death Stars and star destroyers

Young Martin Ødegaard has a tough decision ahead of him, one that comes down to more than choosing between two titanically large clubs. Does he follow the path that’s become all too common for aspiring stars? Or does he carve a less common, if equally enviable course? Does he kiss the hand when it’s presented, or does he wonder if there are fairer fingers? Does he join the Empire, or does he choose … well, a slightly different Empire, with a slightly less asthmatic spokesperson?

Those are the forks in the 16-year-old Norweigan’s road. Perhaps the most sought after young player in the world, Ødegaard would naturally gravitate toward Spain’s big two, should he want to leave home. But with Pep Guardiola now giving Bayern Munich that Spanish charm, perhaps the game’s top prospect will be inclined to head to Bavaria. If he does, he’ll spurn Real Madrid’s interest, something you rarely see from top-flight prospects that don’t end up at Barcelona.

According to today’s report in Marca, Ødegaard’s asked El Real for more time to weigh his options – exactly the spin a pro-Madrid outlet would put on a story like this. Ødegaard has recently been training with Bayern Munich, has had the club’s directors praising his talents, and appeared to be inching toward Bavaria. One outlet predicted the German giants would announce his capture today, but until he signs with München, Real and its voices are going to play up the club’s chances.

Consider that a theory which, if you buy into it, speaks poorly of Madrid’s odds. Marca’s always likely to paint a picture sympathetic to El Real. If a player’s yet to lean one way or another, Marca will focus on Madrid’s interest. Inclined to sign? Well, then he’s practically Bernabéu bound! Nearly signed with another club? Then he’s merely weighing his options.

Beyond any suspected bias, there’s a good reason for that approach. Even if Bayern’s breaking out fountain pens and ink in anticipation of Martin (or his father’s) signature, it will be difficult to say “no” to a final call from El Real. Soon there’ll be a private plane in Oslo, a flight to Madrid with Zidane, and a private tour of the Bernabéu. When they’re done, sitting comfortably on leather couches in Florentino Pérez’s office, Ødegaard will wonder if it’s appropriate for him to be drinking 1928 Krug at his age. What he won’t be wondering about is Bayern Munich.

Consider that the power of Pep Guardiola – the ability to take an already nearly omnipotent club and vault it into any conversation in the world. That complicates young Martin’s decision, but it might mean the world’s next “it” players gravitate to one more locale.

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