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'I said no chance': Ljungberg shares how he 'fought' for Bukayo Saka at Arsenal

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Every Arsenal fan knows that Freddie Ljungberg played a massive part in helping Bukayo Saka become the player he is today.

The Gunners legend started working with our wonderkid when he was just 15. He has seen Saka longer than most people at the club, and he deserves a ton of praise for helping the teenager in his development.

Saka is not just a star for Arsenal now, he’s one for England as well. He started against the Czech Republic a few days ago and he was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. He deservedly won the star of the match award, and he made Ljungberg and everyone else at Arsenal proud.

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Freddie Ljungberg: I fought with Arsenal coaches for Bukayo Saka

Ljungberg shared a story from a few years ago about Saka while speaking on The Coaches’ Voice yesterday. He claims that other coaches at Arsenal tried to stop him from including the youngster in his under-23’s team, but he fought them all and gave the youngster the opportunity he deserved.

He said: “Bukayo – I had him when he was 15, I think. You try to help players to get a career, and especially as a youth coach – even if you win things and stuff, that’s not important. The important thing is for me to teach him certain things that, like stepping stones, so he’ll be ready for the first team.

“When I had the under-23’s at Arsenal, I said: ‘I’m going to take up Bukayo to the 23’s’. I got fought a little bit: ‘No, he’s playing with the under-18’s, he’s not ready’. I said: ‘No chance! If I’m the boss of this team, he’s coming up training with me, and I’ll show he can play’.

“So sometimes, as a coach, you have to have those discussions where people don’t agree with you.”

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The Insider’s View:

It’s not wise to put immense pressure on young players by making them play with people much older than them. The other Arsenal coaches’ worries are completely justified, but Ljungberg standing his ground then is paying off now.

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Saka broke into the under-23’s squad and didn’t look fazed. He broke into the Arsenal first team and nothing fazed him there either, and he’s now doing what he’s always done for England – play without any fear.

It really is hard to believe that Saka is still only 19. He is levels above most players in the world already, and the most exciting part is that he will get even better in the years to come. England and Arsenal really are lucky.

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