Amongst the rumoured playing personnel switches, Arsenal have made a backroom change that could have big effects on the futures of our youth stars.
Freddie Ljungberg has been promoted from U-23’s coach to part of Unai Emery’s first team setup, with Steve Bould moving into an Academy position.
Ljungberg only returned to the club last season after his role as Assistant Manager at Wolfsburg under Andres Joncker, and in his first season as U-23 coach, led the team to an impressive second place position.
Emery had obviously seen enough to believe he can bring something extra to the coaching side of things, but the man we all affectionately know as Freddie will also bring something else to the role.
His intimate knowledge of the Under 23 players and those coming through to that level is one of the main reasons why he has become part of Emery’s coaching team. It is perceived to be a move with a view to integrating some of our kids into the first team.
Some of those players were knocking on the door last season. Bukayo Saka is already making his presence felt on the first team, Jo Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Zech Medley are already regulars in first team squads, and Tyreece John-Jules, Xavier Amaechi, Ben Sheaf and Daniel Ballard earned rave reviews last season under Ljungberg.
With our transfer budget thought to be on the modest side, our youth products could well prove to have a far more prominent role than in the last decade at the very least. With Emile Smith-Rowe and Reiss Nelson also to consider as well as a few others, Ljungberg can be the man to get these kids the airtime in front of Emery that they need to progress.
Unai Emery had Steve Bould alongside Juan Carlos Carcedo last season, which gave the players the link between the old regime and the new, meaning that the wholesale changes still had a touch of the familiar. Now that Emery has had his debut season, the Spaniard can move Ljungberg into Bould’s role, work even closer with the Under-23 players and gauge them closely.
It is great news for our kids, and for Freddie, who did well with the youths. If he can integrate a few of our promising talents into the first team, it won’t just be Emery thanking him for his efforts. Our owner will also be laughing all the way to the bank.