Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg has returned to the Premier League club as Under-23 head coach.
Ljungberg helped Arsenal win the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times in a nine-year spell from 1998 to 2007. He scored 46 goals in 216 appearances for Arsenal and, after retiring in 2014, the Sweden winger spent a season coaching Arsenal’s Under-15 side.
Following a short spell as Wolfsburg assistant manager, Ljungberg returns to the Emirates Stadium after Arsene Wenger ended his 22-year reign as Arsenal manager at the end of the season. Wenger has been replaced by Spaniard Unai Emery. “I’m delighted to be returning to the club. Arsenal has always been a special place for me and I’m really excited at this opportunity to work with our under-23 team,” Ljungberg said on Tuesday. “I look forward to working with the talented young players we have at the club. “I know many of them well and will work hard to help them continue developing and become the best players and people they can be.”
Ljungberg played a prominent role in Arsenal’s Premier League and FA Cup double triumph of 2002 and was part of the ‘Invincibles’ team which went unbeaten for the 2004 league campaign. Ljungberg, who also played for West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Celtic, joined Wolfsburg as former Arsenal Academy manager Andries Jonker’s assistant in 2017. But he left when Jonker was sacked as manager of the German side after just seven months in charge. Arsenal’s new Academy chief Per Mertesacker said: “It’s great to have Freddie back at the club. “He understands the club’s values and how important it is to give young players the opportunity to grow and develop.” Meanwhile, Emery has handed a new “long-term” contract to promising Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The 20-year-old midfielder, who can also play as a wing-back, is a product of Arsenal’s youth academy and made 28 first-team appearances during his breakthrough campaign. Part of the England Under-20s team that won the World Cup in South Korea last year, Maitland-Niles revealed Emery is already a big fan of his. “You don’t really hear a lot of young players being shouted out by their managers, especially a new manager who hasn’t really seen them play too much,” he said. “I think it’s brilliant to hear from him and it gives me a load of confidence. “It means a lot with the new head coach coming in and Arsenal tying me down. I’m very pleased. “We had a little meeting. He said that he wants all of his players to work hard and I’m no stranger to doing that. It will be second nature to me.”