Ljungberg joins West Ham
The big news today is that Swedish captain Fredrik Ljungberg has left Arsenal to join fellow English club West Ham United for around £3million. Previous speculation suggested that Ljungberg may have joined either Fiorentina or Manchester City but it was Arsenal’s London rivals that eventually got the signature of the current Arsenal squad’s longest serving player. Upon joining West Ham, Ljungberg had some big things to say about the Arsenal Football Club, his home for almost ten years.
“It’s all a bit sad. All the players from the undefeated team have left. Now me. I stayed as I wanted to be loyal, but I felt it was the right time to go. But at the same time I am happy. I want to go forward and with the people I have around me now I think it will be really good. I had great years at Arsenal and won almost everything. Not the Champions League unfortunately. We were so close, but I look back with great memories.”
I know that a lot of Arsenal supporters will agree with Ljungberg’s sentiments that “it was the right time” for him to leave – indeed, this analysis suggests it is the right time – but personally, the Swedish captain’s exit has left me absolutely gutted. Ljungberg has been, by a country mile, my favourite Arsenal player since I started supporting the club over ten years ago and I completely echo manager Arsene Wenger’s comments when he says:
“Freddie’s contribution to Arsenal Football Club was absolutely outstanding. His performances over the past nine seasons have been a major part of the club’s successes during this time, especially in our 2002 ‘double’ year when he scored and created so many goals from midfield. Freddie is a winner and always gave absolutely everything when he played for this club. He is an intelligent player and always combined this well with his fantastic fighting spirit. We thank Freddie for his contribution and wish him well for the future.”
There’s a lovely tribute on the club’s official website looking at Ljungberg’s best moments in an Arsenal shirt that you can find here. The photo I’ve included is a shot of my personal favourite Ljungberg moment; his lovely goal in the smash-and-grab 2-0 win over Liverpool in the 2000/2001 season. The joy I felt when Ljungberg’s slammed Robert Pires’ cross into the back of the net was unbelieveable. Thanks for the memories Freddie and I wish you all the best during your time at West Ham.
Ljungberg exit worries me
I recently ran a poll asking readers whether they thought Arsenal should sell Ljungberg and – interestingly – 57% (including myself) were opposed to the idea. Looking to the future, I believe that if Wenger wants to continue playing 4-4-2 he absolutely must sign a winger before the start of next season and my sentiments are echoed by The Cannon. I have stated time and time again that this is the area that needs a big boost and the exit of Ljungberg – a player who, in my opinion still had the ability to make a difference for Arsenal – highlights this even further.
For me, Alexander Hleb and Tomas Rosicky are not the answers to Arsenal’s wide-man troubles. Good players that they may be, they both consistently play better when deployed more centrally than out wide. It seems that Wenger is now relying on a successful season from Theo Walcott and that worries me because he is still so young. Although Cesc Fabregas came on a little earlier than most Arsenal supporters expected him to, a great season from Walcott should be a bonus for the club rather than a necessity. And in that regard, Arsenal desperately need an experienced wide player to fill the void left by Ljungberg’s departure.
What do you think?
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