Arsenal appoint Freddie Ljungberg as new under-23s coach

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Arsenal have announced that former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg will return to the club as head coach of the club’s under-23 side.

Ljungberg spent the 2016-17 season as the U15 coach before leaving to become then-academy director Andries Jonker’s assistant when he took over at Wolfsburg.

He will work under new academy director Per Mertesacker as Arsenal continue to make former players key figures in the youth setup.

“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.”

Ljungberg inherits a team full of talent as Arsenal’s U23s won the Premier League 2 division last season despite often playing without top players like Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah when they were called up to Arsene Wenger’s first team.

However, former U23 coach Steve Gatting was suspended near the end of the season after accusations of bullying.

Ljungberg’s return also helps continue Wenger’s legacy at the club after he ended his 22-year reign as manager, with Jens Lehmann also part of backroom staff under new head coach Unai Emery.

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

“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 joined Arsenal in 1998 and stayed for nine seasons, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups as well as being a member of the side that went a full league season unbeaten.

Fellow “Invincible” Robert Pires told ESPN FC last week that he was thrilled about Ljungberg’s return.

“I’m very happy for Freddie because he’s back with Arsenal,” Pires said. “For the legacy, of course, it’s very important for the club to keep ex-Arsenal players. That’s why they chose Freddie, Jens Lehmann and Per Mertesacker.

Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.