Mikel Arteta has praised the leadership quality of loan signing Martin Odegaard and is eyeing up summer talks to potentially extend his Arsenal stay.
Odegaard moved to the Emirates Stadium from Real Madrid on January 27 and has impressed in recent appearances.
The 22-year-old needed time to get up to speed having not featured regularly for the LaLiga giants but has started Arsenal’s last two games in the number 10 role.
While his ability to find space and pick out key passes has been evident from those early Arsenal displays, Arteta has also been impressed with Odegaard’s approach.
“He is a young leader,” Arteta said.
“On the pitch he is showing a lot of character and a lot of intelligence. They are characteristics that a leader should have.
“He has been here a very short time but he has adapted very quickly. He is getting more and more respect from the players and the staff and his weight on the team will increase with every week.
The signing of the Norway international was something of a coup for the Gunners, who host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
There has already been something a clamour from supporters to see Odegaard remain at the club beyond the end of the current campaign, when he is due to return to Madrid.
Odegaard made his Real Madrid debut in 2015 but has struggled to retain a place in the team – with Arsenal his fourth loan club in recent times following stays at Heerenveen, Vitesse and Real Sociedad.
Arteta conceded any deal, whether another loan or a permanent deal, would have to be worked out in the summer.
“We have Martin for a few months from Real Madrid and first of all we have to maximise this time with him to try to bring to the team all the qualities he has,” the Spaniard added.
“At the end of the season we will sit together and decide where we can take that relationship forward. At the moment it doesn’t just depend on us.”
It remains to be seen if Odegaard starts against City with Arteta likely to make changes having named the same starting XI for the last two games.
He made no alterations to his line-up from the victory over Leeds for the 1-1 Europa League draw with Benfica on Thursday night.
But the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and fit-again Kieran Tierney will be pushing for recalls on Sunday.