Arsenal legend Martin Keown has doubled down on the “reservations” surrounding his old club signing Martin Odegaard.
Speaking ahead of last week’s first-leg with Benfica, Keown admitted that the Real Madrid signing left him with a sense of unease about how it would impact Emile Smith Rowe.
Odegaard was signed during the January window, arriving in north London on loan for the rest of the season.
After initially being limited to cameos off the bench, the 22-year-old has started the last four games, with Mikel Arteta opting to play him as a No.10 in between Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.
But Keown, speaking to BT Sport ahead of the crucial second leg against Benfica, has suggested that the Norwegian is a ‘project’ that Arsenal don’t have time to complete.
“I would personally do something different, I think I’d put Aubameyang back to the left, play Lacazette down the middle and put Smith Rowe back into that central position,” he explained.
“I thought he was really strong there with what he creates and what he does defensively.
“But it’s the manager, he’s seen what he’s seen. Odegaard, I wouldn’t (start) because it’s almost another project which we haven’t got time for now. There’s no time to lose.
“We have to win games of football and he’s not ready yet, he’s demonstrated that.
“There’s a player there, somewhere, underneath all that, he’s got flashes of real quality. But Smith Rowe now was ready to burst into that position. I’d simply put him back in that position.”
Meanwhile, Keown believes that Alexandre Lacazette must be brought back into the starting XI, a move that would enable Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to move back out onto the left hand side.
Arteta has switched the skipper a number of times, something the legendary Gunners central defender finds difficult to understand.
He added: “Lacazette is a player the young players seem to really enjoy playing with, and Aubameyang, we’ve been through this with Arsene Wenger, he played him down the middle, put him on the right and put him back to the left for a reason.
“I don’t see any reason why we are trying to play Aubameyang down the middle.”