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.