As part of our ongoing strategy to fully develop our young players, and to efficiently bring them through to the first team, we are making some coaching changes.
Our goal is to create a ‘transition team’ which will collectively manage a player’s development through some of the hardest and most challenging periods of their professional lives. The aim is to create a clear framework for our young players to fulfil their potential at the highest level.
Freddie Ljungberg, who currently leads our under-23s, will become assistant first-team coach. We are delighted with the impact Freddie has made in helping to develop our young players into the first team and he fully deserves this promotion. Alongside his new coaching responsibilities, Freddie will have a strong focus on the young players who are moving into the first team group.
Steve Bould will lead our under-23 team as well as oversee the under-23 and under-18 phase programme with academy manager Per Mertesacker. Alongside his new under-23 head coach responsibilities, Steve will work with Freddie to determine how players transition between the academy and first team to ensure our players are exposed to the right challenges at the right time.
Our first-team goalkeeping coach, Sal Bibbo, will also take on additional responsibilities to his current coaching role. Sal will lead on the transition of our young goalkeepers from academy to senior football.
Alongside these changes, and to complete this ‘transition team’, our loan manager, Ben Knapper, will continue to identify and recommend third-party clubs to play their part in our players’ development and, ultimately, the move into senior football.
Freddie, who has also previously led our under-16s, said: “I’m really excited by this opportunity to continue helping develop and work with some of the great young players we have coming through in the first-team environment and to work alongside Unai and his coaching team to help Arsenal win trophies. I’m looking forward to working in this new structure and to pass on my experience and knowledge about what is needed to succeed at this level.”
Steve, who ran academy teams for 11 years before becoming Arsène Wenger’s assistant manager in 2012, said: “I have always had a deep commitment to developing young players and am delighted to be back working in an area which is so important to the future of our club. We have great young players and my job will be to help them maximise their potential."
The changes come into effect from July 1.
Head of football Raul Sanllehi said: “Identifying, recruiting and developing young players is a key part of our strategy. We have some great talent coming through our younger age groups and, like all top clubs, the challenge is to help them make the most of their abilities.
"The hardest part is always the transition from academy football to senior football. We already have good programmes in place but these staff changes will ensure our plans are even more robust and clear for every single player. I’m confident it will make a significant difference to our ability to bring players through to the first team.”
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