by Lewis Ambrose
Per Mertesacker retired from international football following Germany’s success at last summer’s World Cup, and is unlikely to represent his country again.
Sporting director of the DFB (German FA) Hansi Flick has suggested that the Arsenal centre-half will not be called up for the Olympics in Rio next summer. Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Flick dampened the hopes that retired national team stars Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Mertesacker may have been harbouring over a return to Brazil.
“Of course we have to consider how we replace the players that are too old by then, but I don’t think such a return campaign would be in line with the idea of the Olympic spirit,” Flick said.
Those legends of the German game may wish to return to the scene of their finest hour, but will be well into their thirties by the games next summer. At 31 (by next summer), Mertesacker would be the youngest of the three.
The squad must consist of players born before 1st January 1993, but there are three places in the squad to be filled by ‘overage’ players.
“It isn’t meant to be arrogant, but if we go to the Olympics, we want the gold medal,” Flick told FAZ.
“This is aim of the coach, the aim of the DFB, and also the target of the DFL (Germany football league).”
It remains to be seen whether or not Mertesacker would even want to be called up, considering he has chosen to retire from international football to have more time to rest and prolong his career.
His 103 Germany caps and a World Cup medal may have been enough to satisfy him with his career on the international stage, but that decision may not even be left up to him anyway.
It’s good news for Arsenal at the end of the day, as a rested Mertesacker can only benefit the Gunners’ chances of success.