Monday, 23 July 2007

Ljungberg Signs

West Ham United have officially announced the signing of Swedish international captain Fredrik Ljungberg. The 30-year-old midfielder agreed a four-year contract with the club today after successfully passing a medical, and was unveiled to the media at Upton Park this afternoon. The player moves across London after nine years at Arsenal, where he made a total of 216 league and cup appearances - including a Champions League Final against Barcelona in May 2006. He was appointed captain of the Swedish national team following last year's World Cup finals and has won 67 senior caps, scoring 13 goals for his country. The exact financial breakdown of the deal has not been revealed but the Mail think the move is for an initial £2million — with a further £1million dependant on performance-related factors. They say it is a £60,000-a-week deal, which replicates the player's contract at Arsenal.

Ljungberg completed his move from north to east London and admitted that it was the ambition of Eggert Magnusson that convinced him to join. "I am very happy and really looking forward to the challenge," he said. "West Ham United is a great club and the Chairman really wants to go for it. I spoke to him at length - he is very easy to talk to, and you can see that he has that fire in his eyes. He wants to take the club to another level, and hopefully I can help him to do that. There are a lot of reasons for making this move and it is hard for me to talk about all of them, but the main thing is that I was convinced by the ambition at West Ham United. The Chairman wants me to help build success here in the future, and I am very excited by that challenge. The aim is to get the club to the top of English football. I haven't had a chance to train with my new team-mates yet, but I am looking forward to that. There are some fantastic players here and the squad is very strong. The Chairman has proved that he isn't scared to move in the transfer market, but West Ham also have a lot of good young players - the Youth Academy here is very famous - and I really can't wait to be a part of things here."

The midfielder had been the Gunners' longest-serving player after costing Arsène Wenger's side £3million from Swedish club Halmstads in 1998. He said he felt it was the right time to leave the club following Thierry Henry's move to Barcelona. "Two years ago, when I signed my last contract we talked a lot about the future and about bringing great players to the club," he said. "Despite building the new stadium we wanted to stay top in England and do well in Europe. For me that didn't really happen. I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal. But when Henry left this summer it felt like the end for me unfortunately. I felt like all the unbeaten players (from Arsenal's 'invincibles' of 2003/04) had left. I wanted to be loyal but I felt like it was the right time. I'm now coming here because I want to build a great team and why I want to join is because of Magnusson. He wants to bring them forward to be top of the country. He's willing to go to the transfer market to buy top players and mix them with youth players. He wants to help take the club up and take them to the top in England. It's a big challenge for me."

Robert Dineen, writing in The Times, said the Swede's comments will only serve to confirm the worst fears among Arsenal fans that their club is in serious decline. The 30-year-old midfielder said Wenger had consistently failed to make the signings necessary to keep his team close to the top of European football. In a press conference so elegiac in tone it could've be directed by Sam Peckinpah, Ljungberg lamented it had been a real wrench to leave Arsenal and that his old boss had tried to convince him to stay. "Other clubs came in for me last summer but I stayed because I wanted to stay loyal to Arsenal," he said. "I've been there for nine years, almost 10 years. It's a big thing for me and I feel it in my heart a little bit. When I spoke to the boss, he wanted me to stay. But at the same time, I feel it had to be something very, very special for me to leave. I want to go forward and, with the people I have around me, I think it's going to be really good."

Hammers boss Alan Curbishley believes Ljungberg was lured after seeing the other moves the club have made in the transfer market this summer. "We spoke to Freddie over the last week and we tried to sell him the club and what we're about," Curbishley said. "He's seen players come in and push us forward. He brings a few things - Champions League experience, captain of Sweden, he's versatile. There's a hunger there. He wants to come and push West Ham on and be partly responsible for that. He's joining another terrific club and that's the way he's got to see it. He understands the passion of the club and the passion of the fans and I'm sure he'll be a big hit here." The Scandinavian has been troubled by ankle, groin, hamstring and knee injuries over the last few years but Curbishley feels he has a player whose winning mentality can transmit to the rest of a squad striving to erase memories of last season's relegation battle. He said: "Freddie needs a challenge and a lift and he is getting that here. I want goals out of Freddie, I want him to make goals as well. But I especially want him to enjoy himself here. This is another adventure for him and when he gets in front of the Upton Park crowd he will know he is really a West Ham player."


Herbert said...

I dont think Freddie is the great player he once was but I do think his name alone may bring new and exciting times to West Ham and lure some more of the big names we so badly want to make us a top 5 club.

Smithy said...

It's sad to see Freddie leave and sad that he (like Henry) blame it on Arsenal's lack of ambition, when the club helped make both of them who they were. Henry had other more personal reasons, and for Freddie it is probably more to do with the fact he wouldn't be a first choice player next season anyway. Does he really believe that West Ham are going to be anywhere close to Arsenal during his playing career? Getting old is especially hard for a footballer.

Jack said...

Freddie was a great asset to the Gunners up intil he started to pick up a lot of injuries, especially with Sweden. He is leaving beause he can no longer command a place at Arsenal. We wish him well for the Hammers.

Webbers said...

Ljungberg will be a good signing for West Ham if he can stay fit as his experience will help the younger players at the club.
Arsenal meanwhile have lost another experienced player which in my view is a bit of a gamble as a blend of both is essential to building a successful side.

Angus said...

"In comments that will confirm the worst fears among Arsenal fans that the club is in serious decline"

It will do absolutely no such thing. Whose word are we more likely to trust with regards to the future prospects of the club, a player past his best who has done nothing for two years and was taking far more salary than he was worth or one of the most highly regarded managers in world football in Arsene Wenger? Anyone who writes Arsenal off with Wenger at the helm does so at their own peril. Dissappointed at the angle being taken in the media.

Marky said...

"And why I want to join is because of Magnusson"

Call me cynical, but I think this may be for his fiscal prowess rather than his ambitions for the 'appy 'ammers.

Excellent signing though, if he can hit top form.

Thomas said...

In what possible way do Ljungberg's comments "confirm the worst fears among Arsenal fans that the club is in serious decline" ?

His departure has nothing to do with Henry leaving. Freddie turned down moves to Man City and Italy earlier this month and said he'd never play for another Premier League side. Then along came West Ham, consistently willing to pay massive wages.

It probably did "feel like the end" for Freddie at Arsenal, in as much as he'd become a 3rd choice in a squad full of young talent.

Redrick said...

Freddie Ljungburg says he joined West Ham because they want to sign great players so why have they signed Craig Bellemy,Scott Parker and Richard Wright.Freddie was a great player but unfortunately time has taken it`s toll .It would have been better for him to end his career in his native Sweden.
All the best for the future Freddie and thanks a lot.

Moorhead said...

We love Freddy , red hair and all. But these comments are a bit self-serving and disingenuous. I understand the sheer frustration that must come from two injury plagued seasons when the club failed to win any silverware. It must have been very painful to deal with the fact that you were not the same player that you once were, as anyone who has watched you the last couple of years can testify to that. Your comments today are a bit disappointing from someone who has been such a model footballer in more ways than one. I expected a little more from you. Nevertheless, good luck to you and your aspirations to lead West Ham to the top of the Barclays Premiership.

Jess said...

I don't agree that Freddie's comments are disingenious. Like every Gooner, every football gan I guess, we approach each new season with optimism, which for the last 3 seasons has been sadly misplaced. Freddie echoes the thoughts of most Arsenal fans: had we invested more, we would have done better.

Even a team like Totenham has outspent spent us (net) by more than £100M since Wenger arrived. Yes, we do have a new stadium, funded it appears almost fully by debt, but how come much smaller comes can outspend us and maintain lower debt levels?

Money does not guarantee success, and Wenger has been absolutely magical with his limited funds, but in his heart Wenger must be a tad jealous of the higher spending teams, even though he's far too good to ever admit so.

Freddie, enjoy your time at Upton Park. I'll certainly be singing for you when the Hammers come to the Emirates.

Gary said...

As I have commented before in this space, it's all about the money. Henry, Ljundberg, Pires etc. exited the club using the excuse that they were blaming Wenger for not signing impact players.
Truth be told, all the players that left were injury-prone and obviously worried that their earnings were about to take a big drop...or in Henry's case, an opportunity to increase his earnings.
That being said, Wenger is being left behind, becaue those departing players are all correct!
The only high price "impact" player signed was a 17 year-old (Walcott); certainly not ready to turn the club's fortunes around. Liverpool and ManU committed to the present. Arsenal continues to commit to the future while dropping periously close to UEFA Cup participation.


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