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Freddie’s ready to make step up at Arsenal

'Invincible' Ljungberg set to coach Gunners' first-team

07 June, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

ARSENAL look set to add an “Invincible” to their first-team coaching staff after manager Unai Emery revealed he will be looking to build his success on youth players next season.

A major overhaul of the club’s backroom structure is reportedly set to see Under-23s coach Freddie Ljungberg promoted to a more prominent role within the Gunners’ first-team set-up.

Current assistant manager Steve Bould could replace Ljungberg as Under-23s coach, where he would work closely with academy manager Per Mertesacker on player development.

Former Swedish international Ljungberg played 285 matches for Arsenal over nine years, and was part of the 2003-04 “Invincibles” squad that won the Premier League title without losing a single game. His success with the club’s Under-23s makes him well positioned to advise Emery on the young talent at his disposal.

Emery has already revealed plans to merge experience with youth ahead of his second season in charge of the club.

Speaking after the 4-1 defeat against Chelsea in the Europa League final, the Spaniard said: “We have the possibility for a lot of players to improve. I am positive for our future with our young players getting better.

“Next year we can continue with some players coming in to help us get better.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah all featured for the first-team last season, and Emery is expected to welcome Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe back into the fold following loan spells in Germany.

In the way of new faces coming in, Arsenal have been linked with another spending spree in Genoa after targeting Sampdoria duo Dennis Praet and Joachim Andersen.

Reports in Italy suggest that the Gunners have already had a €42million (£37m) offer for the pair rejected, with the Serie A side holding out for nearer €50m (£44m).

The two clubs have previously proved that they can do business, with Arsenal signing Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria last summer. Emery is now keen to reunite Praet with Torreira and he would have been buoyed by the 25-year-old’s claims that he has been promised he will be allowed to leave if a big offer comes in.

“I want to move to a top club in one of the four top leagues,” Praet told Belgian news outlet HLN.

“I don’t have a release clause but Sampdoria have verbally agreed to grant me a move if an interesting offer arrives.”

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