Per Mertesacker says Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta taught him how to ‘man up’

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker were Arsenal teammates before being off-the-field colleagues (Picture: Getty Images)

Per Mertesacker learned a lot about the mental side of the game from Mikel Arteta when they were teammates at Arsenal, and says they are now reaping the rewards as they work together off the field in north London.

Mertesacker and Arteta arrived at Arsenal on the same day – 31 August 2011 – and played together until the Spaniard retired in 2016 and joined the coaching staff at Manchester City.

Now both have hung up their boots, Arteta is manager at the Emirates while Mertesacker runs the academy and the German feels his old teammate is the ideal figure to lead the club, having experienced his presence on the field.

‘I’m so delighted that Mikel has a place where he belongs, that’s my belief and that was my belief already as a player,’ Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.

‘His leadership is fantastic and I felt it myself, just being vice-captain and learning from him, how to handle situations, how to man up, be the captain and show it, but as well to have the empathy and the feeling for people.

‘I learned a lot from him and I can only say that our working relationship is great and our personal relationship is great, so I can see a fantastic future for us.’

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Assistant coach Per Mertesacker of Arsenal is seen prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Mertesacker has worked with the first team but now runs the Arsenal academy (Picture: Getty Images)

Another former player is playing a key role off the pitch at Arsenal, with Edu installed as technical director, having played for the club from 2001-05.

Mertesacker feels it is important to build on the history of the club and ex-players help to do so, but knows there is a lot of work to be done to restore the side to its former glories.

‘It’s just building pieces with Edu as well, so I think we’re in a fantastic position,’ continued the German. ‘We don’t take anything for granted, now is the time to really push on and make sure we come back to where we belong, and that’s the Champions League and having world-class players in the building, and having world-class young players.

‘We want to build on our DNA that was developed over centuries, so we cannot forget the history and the greatness of the club.

‘We are inheriting that and we are sons of so many greats that have led this club to greatness, so it’s a big responsibility, not only for myself but for Mikel, Edu and all the great leadership we have.

‘I feel we have more and more people in the right places and I feel great about it.’

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