Per Mertesacker

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Mertesacker to retire, manage Arsenal’s academy in 2018-19

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Per Mertesacker‘s final season as a player will be in 2017-18.

Arsenal’s club captain, 32, will call time on his playing career and move into a full-time coaching role as the manage of the Gunners’ academy.

Injured for most of last season, the German national team legend put in a stunning display in the 2016-17 FA Cup final as Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

Now, he will have one more season leading Arsenal on the pitch before leading their youth policy off of it. He will also work closely with the academy over the next 12 months before taking up his new position.

Here’s what Arsene Wenger had to say about Mertesacker moving onto a new challenge.

“Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players,” Wenger said. “He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfill their potential. He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”

As for Mertesacker, he said this was “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 is a model pro who despite all of his injuries last season prepared himself mentally for a massive display in the FA Cup final. Wenger spoken glowingly of his attitude in the aftermath of that win (Mertesacker’s third FA Cup trophy as a Gunner) and has always been a huge admirer of the German World Cup winner.

In the past much has been said about past Arsenal greats such as Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieria not moving into more senior coaching roles under Wenger, but with Steve Bould by his side and now Mertesacker set to be around to help develop youngsters, a real culture of former pros leading the club is emerging.

Dare we say Mertesacker is being groomed to take over when Wenger steps down…

Probably not, but it’s clear he has Arsenal in his heart and vice versa with the BFG a hugely popular figure among supporters, teammates and club officials alike.

Arsenal receives boost with Mertesacker return

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The Gunners haven’t had many troubles in 2016, and the club is about to get a big lift defensively to reassure its strong form.

[ MORE: Mourinho reportedly prepared to keep Rooney ]

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is set to make a return after suffering a knee injury during the team’s buildup to the 2016/17 season. Mertesacker hasn’t featured for the Gunners at all, but the prospects of him returning at the back certainly creates a strong option for Arsene Wenger.

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The centerback took to social media on Monday, indicating that his rehab has gone well and he is in fact ready to return to the Emirates. Arsenal faces a strong challenge on Saturday against Manchester United, and Mertesacker could feature on the backline depending on how training goes the rest of the week.

The 32-year-old has served as captain for the Gunners and will likely immediately be restored in the starting XI once Wenger sees him as fully fit.

Mertesacker joined Arsenal back in 2011 from German side Werder Bremen, and has since played over 208 matches in all competitions for the Premier League club. Arsenal currently sits in fourth place in England’s top flight on 24 points.

Werder Bremen wants Per Mertesacker to rejoin club in summer

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Per Mertesacker may seem like a lifelong Gunner, but the big German center back has spent slightly less time at Arsenal than his last stop.

Mertesacker hit the Emirates Stadium at the end of the Summer 2011 transfer window, and has made 208 appearances for Arsenal.

[ MORE: USA squad v Mexico? ]

Those are two fewer than the number of times he pulled on the Werder Bremen shirt, and it seems possible that number 210 could begin to rise next year.

From Sky Sports:

Officials from Bremen and Hannover, another of Mertesacker’s former club, have publicly declared an interest in bringing the centre-half back home next season.

And current Bremen skipper Clemens Fritz told Bild: “We’ve talked about it [a return to Bremen]. It would be a good thing for the club.”

Fritz, 35, joined Bremen in 2006, the same time as Mertesacker. The club had a rough year during Mertesacker’s last season, and has been a bottom-half team since he left Weserstadion.

Mertesacker says his recovery is nearly complete from a serious knee injury suffered in late July against Lens. He’ll be out-of-contract this summer, and can open discussions with a new club beginning in January.

Though the big man is often derided for his lack of speed, he’s decent in both the possession and defensive parts of the game. If his knee is fine, he’ll still have a few solid years left.

Report: Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker out five months with serious injury

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Numerous reports are claiming that Arsenal will be without their BFG until 2017.

German central defender Per Mertesacker has not traveled with the Gunners on their tour of the USA with the club confirming their vice captain suffered a knee injury during their friendly win over Lens last Friday.

[ MORE: Spurs lose to Juve in ICC ]

Sky Sports in the UK claim that Mertesacker, 31, could be out for five months and they believe the club will announce that news in the next 48 hours.

That leaves Arsene Wenger with a real problem at center back.

Gabriel has also not traveled with Arsenal due to tonsillitis and Laurent Koscielny is also missing after being given extra time off following his part in France’s run to the EURO 2016 final.

That means only Calum Chambers and new signing from Bolton Wanderers, 20-year-old Rob Holding, are around as center back options for Wenger. Nacho Monreal could also slot in for the time being but Arsenal may now look to get another center back in before the end of the transfer window this summer.

The Gunners have arrived in the USA and play the MLS All-Stars in San Jose, Calif. on Thursday, then Chivas de Guadalajara next Monday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Mertesacker on Arsenal’s season: “Not a lot of signings and a lot of young players”

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Arsene Wenger says Arsenal is still looking for the right big names to join the club, but defender Per Mertesacker seems ready to battle without additions.

The big German defender was quite outspoken when it comes to the club’s second place finish in the 2015-16 Premier League, saying it was a “miracle” they finished that high.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Mertesacker, 31, notes the giant clubs who finished behind Arsenal on the PL table, and that several of those competitors have made big pick-ups in the transfer market.

From The Sun:

“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.

“So we also need to be stronger and I am looking forward to seeing how well we compete for the title with not a lot of signings and a lot of young players.”

Arsenal has added Granit Xhaka and English U-21 back Rob Holding, but patience seems thin amongst Gooners across the globe. Are Mertesacker’s comments a hint that the players aren’t expecting much?