Per Mertesacker is retiring from professional football at the end of 2017/18, but he wants to point out that he’s not quite done yet.
The Arsenal captain will spend part of the next year preparing for his new role as head of the Arsenal academy, but before that he plans to make the most of every minute and help the team however he can. He is driven to make this last season a special one, and told the Arsenal website:
“I want to make the most of it. I want to stay injury-free, be an option for the manager to get picked every weekend. That’s the target. To make it as enjoyable as I can.”
For Per, the next year isn’t about playing three games every week, as he admitted towards the end of last season that this no longer seems possible for him. Instead, it’s about being available and driving those around him forward to fight for their places. He said on Sunday:
“Being able to train and make an impact makes me feel good. Being an option and pushing the other players is something I embrace because when you are injured you can do nothing, which was horrible for me.”
This is ideal for Arsenal and should be welcome news to Arsenal fans, as healthy competition without damaging team morale is what the club needs to improve. It certainly doesn’t sound as though Per plans to sit around relaxing and soaking up praise for his final year.
His pre-season performances so far have been solid, and hopefully his influence on and off the pitch can bring success for both him and Arsenal. We wish him luck for the coming season.