Arsenal star named as Garth Crooks’ surprise pick for Player of the Season

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Garth Crooks has named Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard as his Premier League Player of the Season for 2023/24. 

The Norwegian playmaker has enjoyed another fine campaign at the Emirates Stadium, notching eight goals and 10 assists in Premier League play alone, while he finished third only to Bruno Fernandes (114) and Pascal Gross (103) in the entire division for chances created (102).

Odegaard has often provided the focal point to Arsenal’s attack, while also donning the captain’s armband thanks to his understated yet exemplary leadership.

Odegaard more than ‘just a professional footballer’

Martin Odegaard pictured during Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Everton in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday

Earlier in the campaign, former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville described Odegaard as ‘the best player’ in his position on his self-titled Podcast.

Even so, it’s a surprise to see Crooks name him player of the season given he was still only able to help Arsenal finish second to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Pep Guardiola’s squad is jam-packed with elite quality, with the likes of Rodri, Phil Foden and Erling Haaland perhaps more predictable candidates.

Even Crooks himself admitted he made an exception for Odegaard.

“Normally my player of the season goes to the best player of whichever team wins the Premier League title. However, this year I am prepared to make an exception for an exceptional player,” Crooks wrote for BBC Sport.

“Martin Odegaard is more than just a professional footballer, he’s a throwback to what captains of big clubs used to be like. Outstanding player, great leader and respected by his team-mates. Odegaard is all of those things.

“He has little time for the spotlight and is only interested in getting the job done. The game needs more like him.”

Odegaard ‘proud’ of Arsenal progress

Odegaard himself was in a defiant mood on the final day of the 2023/24 season, where Arsenal were confirmed as runners-up to Manchester City by two points despite beating Everton 2-1 at the Emirates.

It’s the second time in a row the Gunners have finished second to City, but the 89 points they accrued is their second-best return in club history behind only their 2003/04 invincible side.

“I think we’re all a little bit disappointed. We’ve been fighting so long for the big dream. We were so close,” the former Real Madrid man said (as quoted by Sky Sports), adding: “I’m so proud of the boys, so proud of the team the fans. I’m so proud of the progress we are making.

“We’ve changed the club and I think you all believe in us now.”

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