Belfast Telegraph

Per Mertesacker to retire at end of season and take up Arsenal academy role

Arsenal have confirmed German defender Per Mertesacker is to take over as academy manager in a year's time.

The 32-year-old World Cup winner is the club captain and will continue to be part of the first-team squad this season "while developing his knowledge and understanding of the Academy", the Gunners said in a statement on their website.

Luke Hobbs is set to continue to lead the Arsenal Academy through the 2017/18 campaign.

Mertesacker, who joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen in August 2011, is excited about his new role.

"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family," Mertesacker said.

"This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who penned a new two-year contract extension after guiding the team to FA Cup success over Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley, believes Mertesacker is well suited to taking his first steps of a coaching career.

"Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players. He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfil their potential," Wenger said.

"He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy."

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