In a move that had been widely mooted and seemed fairly obvious (at least to this writer), Arsenal announced today that Per Mertesacker will take up the mantle of club captain for the 2016-17 season.
According to the Dot Com, senior teammates will fill in for Per during his long absence due to injury. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had this to say about the appointment of the 31-year-old German, who will be 32 next month:
“Per is a very respected figure in the dressing room, is loved as well and is also a very demanding figure. I think it is absolutely natural to be [him],” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“[In his absence] that’s where it will be taken by the assistants. One of them will be Koscielny, also Cazorla - the experienced players - Cech maybe.
“We will have a group of people that will take care of the energy levels and the problems of the team. That will be down a lot to the experienced players.”
Mertesacker will spend a decent chunk of his new captaincy sidelined due to injury, but it has become clear in recent years that Wenger appoints captains who are seasoned veterans of both the league and the team who can be counted on to lead in the dressing room and off the pitch even when not necessarily playing week in and week out.
Thomas Vermaelen barely played in the final year of his captaincy, 2013-2014, but was still hailed as an excellent captain who fulfilled his duties with aplomb. Mikel Arteta, club captain from 2014-2016, did the same as he spent more and more time sidelined by injury.
Although those situations were likely not planned, perhaps they showed Wenger that a captain’s ability to do his duty is not necessarily tied to the amount of time he spends on the pitch and gave Wenger the confidence to name Mertesacker as captain even during his long layoff.
Congratulations to our new captain, Per Mertesacker! Best of luck for a speedy recovery from injury, Cap!