Arsenal have officially announced that Per Mertesacker will become their academy manager in a year’s time as he prepares to extend his stay in north London.
The 32-year-old joined the Gunners in 2011, and has gone on to make 150 Premier League appearances for the club while also establishing himself as a fan favourite.
However, injuries have severely limited him in more recent times, as he made just two outings last season but remained an important figure from a leadership standpoint.
With his contract set to expire next summer, it looks as though he’ll call time on his playing career in 12 months time, but will immediately step into his new role as head of the Arsenal academy.
“Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players,” Arsene Wenger told the club’s official site. “He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfil their potential. He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”
“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family,” the German defender added. “This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team.”
It’s a huge but exciting task for the stalwart to take on, with Wenger now continuing to break from tradition in terms of bringing in former players to assist him at the club.
Jens Lehmann arrived as first-team coach this week to accompany assistant manager Steve Bould, and there could be more to come in the future.
— Per Mertesacker (@mertesacker) July 7, 2017
We've got some big academy news… https://t.co/A1UgNiwpxS
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) July 7, 2017