Shaka Hislop has passionately backed Per Mertesacker’s decision to become head of Arsenal’s academy once his deal as a player comes to an end next year.
While speaking to ESPN, Hislop revealed why he’s not really surprised by Mertesacker’s decision to coach Arsenal’s academy once his playing contract with the club runs out next year. In fact, he’s sees it as a logical move.
“I was a little bit (surprised),” the ex-Newcastle goalkeeper said.
“But at the same time, as players start coming to the end of their careers, they start thinking about what’s the next step.
“I have absolutely no problem with this at all.
“For me, a club’s character – a club’s DNA – runs from, or at least should run, from the first team all the way down to the academy. So just in terms of you knowing what the club is about and the direction the club wants to go in in short, medium and long-term, he should be aware of right now.
“And the challenge for Per Mertesacker would be bringing his own experiences, expertise, lending it to that DNA, and bringing it across to the academy.
“Just thinking back to my days coming to end of my career, you’ve got a year or two left on your contact, even if you felt that you might get another contract after that, it wouldn’t be more than two or three years before you seriously have to hang up the gloves, in my case, and (think about) what to do next.
“You start with your coaching badges, you start familiarising yourself with the way the club does their business, from the first team all the way down to academy level, and you’ve got to feel like Per Mertesacker has done that and knows what will be asked of him in the time to come.
“So it may be a little bit of a surprise in that there didn’t seem to be much talk of this beforehand but in terms of him making that transition, that side of it doesn’t surprise me at all.
“I’m absolutely 100% (for it).”
Since Andries Jonker left as head of Arsenal’s academy to become Wolfsburg manager back in February, it’s been down to interim manager, Luke Hobbs, to keep everything running smoothly.
Hobbs will continue as interim manager but only until Mertesacker takes over next year.
The BFG hinted recently that he would like to take a step back from playing and could fill a role behind the scenes at Arsenal but his appointment as head of the academy was kept very hush-hush until the news was released by the club.