Ainsley Maitland-Niles says Freddie Ljungberg has been helping him improve the attacking side of his game by sharing a few hints and tips on the training ground.
The Swede joined Unai Emery’s first team coaching roster in the summer and has been hailed by a number of the club’s young English players, including Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka, for the way he’s taken time out to relay one-on-one advice.
While Ljungberg started his career in the centre of midfield before being converted to a winger by Arsene Wenger, Maitland-Niles still harbours hopes of playing in the middle even though most of his first team minutes have so far come at full-back.
Given the Swede’s experience on the flanks, Maitland-Niles is happy to be mentored.
“There’s quite a few things [I have learnt] really,” he told Arsenal.com.
“He knows me as a winger, so attacking-wise he’s helped my game a lot. Defensively, I go to someone else to help me because they’re two different styles that I have to play.
“Him personally, he’s pulled me to the side a lot and has shown me different techniques and ways of beating players, ways of crossing the ball and shooting. It’s helping me and I’m happy to have him around because he’s such a big figure in the team.”
According to Maitland-Niles, Ljungberg’s influence is paying dividends.
“I only got two assists last season and I’ve got two already this season, which is a good start,” he said.
“Hopefully I continue with my assists and maybe create more opportunities to get my stats higher this season.
“I worked on it a lot when I was younger because I used to play on the wing, so the timing of my runs is everything to me.
“That’s what’s going to get me in on goal, that’s what’s going to get me behind the defence to either pass to someone else or to shoot on goal myself. It was very important for me to learn how to time my runs and create opportunities for others.”