Arsenal have released a rather surprising announcement this afternoon, stating that club captain Per Mertesacker is to be the new head of the club’s academy (via Arsenal.com).
It’s all changing behind the scenes at Arsenal Football Club. With new coaches and a new transfer negotiator, the Gunners have seen a lot of change in setup this summer and it doesn’t show any signs of changing.
One position which needs to be filled is the club’s academy manager. Andries Jonker held the position for nearly two seasons before leaving to join Wolfsburg as manager earlier this year.
Now, it seems that the club has named his long-term successor and it’s a surprise choice: current club captain Per Mertesacker.
“Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players,” said manager Arsene Wenger in a club statement.
“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.”
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Mertesacker has been at the club since 2011 but has confirmed that this coming season will be his last as a player.
“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 32-year-old said.
“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 an exciting appointment both for the club and Mertesacker himself. Many players – including Rob Holding and Mesut Özil have credited Mertesacker’s influence during his time at the club and it’s clear that many young players look up to him. At 32 years old, there’s no doubt that his best playing days are behind him and this seems like an excellent decision for everyone concerned.