Per Mertesacker will retire as a player at the end of this season and will then become Arsenal’s academy manager. Earlier this summer, Mertesacker had confirmed talks with Arsenal about a post-playing role, but rather than taking on a coaching role, Mertesacker will be the permanent successor to Andries Jonkers, who left earlier this year to coach Wolfsburg.
Speaking about his appointment, Mertesacker said “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.” Mertesacker has been an important leader and figure in the dressing room during his time at Arsenal, which is one reason why he became club captain last season, even while missing nearly the entirety of the campaign, FA Cup final aside. Arsene Wenger credited Mertesacker with being “A deep thinker about the game [who] will be an inspirational figure for everyone.”
The position is perhaps not what one would’ve expected for Mertesacker, but the club seem interested in placing more former players in and around the team. As Academy Manager, Mertesacker will be responsible for overseeing the additions of young players to the set-up, but that will be an operation done with the input of others, such as the scouting set-up. Mertesacker’s role, based on comments made by Gazidis and others, will be solidifying the ideals of the club at academy level, which Mertesacker is perfect for, as well as coaching.
A frequent complaint about Arsenal is the lack of former players in the set-up; with the addition of Jens Lehmann and Per Mertesacker, Arsenal are addressing that criticism, but aren’t bowing down to attention seeking weirdos who are demanding a job.