The Chicago Fire continued their total makeover on Friday with the acquisition of midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
The Swede comes to the club in a trade with the Seattle Sounders in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2011 or 2012. The former Arsenal and West Ham star joins Nery Castillo as the second Designated Player to come to Chicago in the last month.
“He’s a very good player, he’s an excellent player,” Fire technical director Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com Friday. “He’s first of all a very competitive person; he’s got the kind of mentality that will fit in very well with our club. He’s a winner, he wants to win championships, and he’s a very good player.”
The 33-year-old Ljungberg, a natural winger, will play in the middle for the Fire.
“I know a lot of times with his career at Arsenal he was out wide but I see him as a guy in the middle… almost like a playmaker type,” Klopas said. “He’s a guy that always wants the ball and I think he would fit in the middle—at least for our team—a lot better than out wide.”
Ljungberg began his MLS career when he signed with the Sounders in October of 2008. He lit up the league in 2009, scoring twice and assisting nine times en route to All-Star and Best XI selections. He’s struggled to recapture that form this season, failing to score and assisting just three times in 15 league games.
He then appeared to fall out of favor with the Sounders earlier this month. He hasn’t appeared in a league match since July 4th and hasn’t trained with the full team for the last week—taking part in individual training alongside his former teammates instead.
Klopas declined to comment on the off-the-field issues of his newest acquisition.
In Chicago, The two-time World Cup veteran will team up with Castillo, Brian McBride, Marco Pappa, and Patrick Nyarko to give Chicago what should be one of the best offenses in MLS.
“It’s exciting, it’s exciting,” Klopas said. “On paper it looks great, so now it’s just a matter of going on the field and working hard. The good thing is that Nery and Freddie have very good attitudes. They want to win, they’re winners, they’re committed to working hard and leaving everything on the field and making sure they bring a championship here to Chicago.”
Klopas, who has repeatedly expressed his preference for young DP’s, said that Ljungberg’s somewhat advanced age should not be an issue.
“I think that the guy has still got a lot left for sure,” said Klopas. “He brings a lot of experience but also the competitive drive. Sometimes you got to look at every situation and sometimes opportunities come up and you just got to be prepared to take advantage of them.”