Odegaard and Oxford: Arsenal reach for the starlets

Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard, who is just 15, is being pursued by teams across Europe

Martin Odegaard
(Image credit: Braastad, Audun,Braastad, Audun/AFP/Getty)

As Arsenal prepare to host Anderlecht tonight in their Champions League group clash, the Daily Star reports that the Gunners are lining up a couple of 'starlets' for the New Year.

Top of their list is Barcelona frontman Munir El Haddadi who, at 19, just about still fits into the 'wonderkid' category. According to the Star Arsenal are eyeing up "a short-term loan deal" for El Haddadi.

The teenage hitman has recently been ousted from the Barcelona line-up by the return of biting bad boy Luis Suarez but the Catalan giants are desperate to hang on to El Haddadi. To that end they are "willing to send him on loan in a bid to keep him playing first team football". Arsenal are said to be ready to take him on a six-month deal until the end of the season, and the move could be agreed in the coming weeks.

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And the Star also claims that Arsenal are one of several clubs after Norwegian Martin Odegaard. At just 15, the Stromsgodset playmaker is most definitely a 'starlet' and Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are as interested in him as are the Gunners.

But there could be bad news on the horizon for the quartet of Premier League clubs. Apparently Champions League winners Real Madrid have "extended an invite to the teenage sensation to visit the club's facilities".

Already capped twice at senior level by his country – a Norwegian record – Odegaard is also being trailed by Dutch club Ajax and it's expected that he will announce his destination in the New Year.

And we haven't finished with precocious youngsters because the Daily Express says that Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are all chasing the highly-rated Reece Oxford. It appears that the 16-year-old – described by the Express as "one of the country's hottest properties" – has failed to agree terms with current club West Ham.

As a result the defender is being circled by United, Arsenal and Chelsea, which has given West Ham the willies. The Express says that the Hammers are scrambling to come up with an attractive package in order to tie Oxford to the club for the foreseeable future.

Talksport reports that veteran Liverpool defender Glen Johnson could be the latest Englishman to try his luck in Italy. Former England teammates Ashley Cole and Micah Richards are currently enjoying the good life in Serie A and the right-back looks set to follow in their footsteps when his Reds' contract expires at the end of this season. Talksport say Inter Milan are interested in signing the 30-year-old Johnson, who has started just four Premier League matches this season for the struggling Anfield outfit, who take on Real Madrid tonight in the Champions League.

And if caughtoffside is correct Johnson might be joined in Italy by Liverpool teammate Fabio Borini. The 23-year-old striker has slipped down the pecking order with the arrival of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert and it seems the Italian is ready to return home to kickstart his career.

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The Week.co.uk, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.