Per Mertesacker has revealed how much being Arsenal captain means to him.
Despite being out with a long-term knee injury, Arsene Wenger saw fit to hand the German the captain’s armband and Mertesacker has admitted that he was honoured, although he would have understood if the boss hadn’t given it to him.
It was a bit of a strange decision to give a player who had just been ruled out for five months the captain’s armband considering Laurent Koscielny would get it anyway. However, I’m sure the centreback was Wenger’s first choice for a reason.
“It was a tough decision and I would have understood everything if he had said that he needed someone nearby the team,” Mertesacker told the Telegraph.
“He knew how long I was out but he told me that he still saw me as a big figure for the club and that I was his first choice. I couldn’t believe it. It was huge for me. I was really buzzing as it came at the time I didn’t think it was going to happen. You want to be on the pitch, giving advice, making the difference, but sometimes that is not the role and you have to let it go. I needed to learn that. I felt very confident that I could still fulfil the role by being myself. That was what the manager demanded as well. He said, ‘Do not force anything; be natural, be yourself and don’t exaggerate the captaincy’.”
Mertesacker recently started training again and should be back in action in the new year. With his contract running out at the end of the season, you have to wonder how many more times we’ll see him in an Arsenal shirt.
Regardless, no one can question the defender’s love of the club.