Mertesacker revealed he had offers from other club to keep playing professionally, but he turned them down to become Arsenal’s academy manager.
The former Germany international was asked whether there were any other offers for his signature before he took the role as head of academy. He said to Arsenal.com: “Certainly. I didn’t let it happen because it’s the final year of my contract and normally negotiations start in January as then I’m a free agent out of contract.
“I didn’t let it happen, so the club offered me that job one year before my contract ended. I didn’t have to consider much. I made my mind up, it was my own decision and I’ve not been distracted by anything else.
“I just wanted to get my own path and my own future right, the right thing for me and my family because it’s a big decision. Once I signed the contract, I signed up to the end of my career as well. It was a big decision for me.”
It’s encouraging to hear of Mertesacker’s show of loyalty towards the club he currently captains, especially after previous skippers like Cesc Fabregas, Mikel Arteta and William Gallas have moved onto Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham respectively.
The situations with each of those players were very different, but nonetheless they all made the choice to move to one of Arsenal’s rivals. Even Patrick Vieira joined up with Man City before having anything to do with the Gunners again.
As a result, it’s good to finally see some evidence that Arsenal can draw retiring and retired players to join the staff behind the scenes.
After Mertesacker’s performance in the FA Cup final, and not forgetting the shift he put in the previous week to help Arsenal to a 3-1 win over Everton with 10 men, his confirmation that other clubs were interested in convincing him to keep playing is no great surprise.
After all, the German is a World Cup winner and the captain of one of the biggest clubs in England. I believe there would be a few clubs out there willing to take a risk on a 32-year-old.
Instead, Arsenal’s youth academy get to take advantage of that experience and hopefully they’ll be all the better for it.