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Arsenal legend the latest former player to return to club in coaching role

Freddie Ljungberg will take charge of the club’s U23 side from next season.

Ljungberg spent last season with Wolfsburg.
Ljungberg spent last season with Wolfsburg.
Image: Alexander Scheuber

FORMER ARSENAL MIDFIELDER Freddie Ljungberg will return to the club as their new U23 head coach following a spell on the backroom team at German side Wolfsburg.

Ljungberg, a member of the Gunners’ invincibles side, started his coaching career at Arsenal but was appointed assistant coach at Wolfsburg in February 2017.

He now returns to North London to take charge of Arsenal’s U23 side ahead of next season under academy manager Per Mertesacker, who retired in May to take up the position.

“I’m delighted to be returning to the club,” Ljungberg said. “Arsenal has always been a special place for me and I’m really excited at this opportunity to work with our under-23 team.

“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.”

Arsenal U23s won the Premier League 2 division last season but coach Steve Gatting was suspended near the end of last term after accusations of bullying.

Ljungberg will be responsible for the development of the club’s next generation with several young players given first-team opportunities by Arsene Wenger last year after standing out for the U23 team, including Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah.

The ex-Swedish international, 41, joins former Arsenal team-mate Jens Lehmann on the club’s staff, after the German was appointed to new head coach Unai Emery’s coaching team.

“It’s great to have Freddie back at the club,” Mertersacker commented. “He brings great footballing experience and the highest possible levels of enthusiasm, energy and encouragement for our young professionals.

“He understands the club’s values and how important it is to give young players the opportunity to grow and develop. When Freddie left for Wolfsburg it was with the club’s blessing and with a return to Arsenal some day in mind. Everyone knows Freddie loves the club and we look forward to him developing his career with us.”

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 the club’s U15 side.

Ljungberg, who also played for West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Celtic, joined Wolfsburg as former Arsenal academy manager Andries Jonker’s assistant last year — but left when Jonker was sacked as manager of the German side after just seven months in charge.

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