Per Mertesacker wants to ‘give Mikel Arteta headaches’ with Arsenal academy

Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker and Ian Wright
The German spoke to Ian Wright from his home (Picture: YouTube / Ian Wright / Adidas Home Team)

Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker says he revels in giving Mikel Arteta ‘headaches’ by producing young talent who can compete for a place in the Spaniard’s first team.

Arteta’s appointment has brought a renewed focus on developing youngsters, with 18-year-old Bukayo Saka notably benefiting from that shift in approach as he made 18 Premier League appearances and registered nine assists in all competitions.

The likes of Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah have also seen significant game time this season and Mertesacker wants to keep producing exciting talent who can challenge for first team spots and give Arteta a real selection dilemma.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta
Arteta has been keen to utilise the academy and promote youngsters (Picture: Getty)

Speaking to Ian Wright on his YouTube channel for Adidas Home Team, Mertesacker explained: ‘We are really keen on giving Mikel Arteta a lot of headaches, you know.

‘He must be thinking, “What’s going on in the academy?” Every year there is the potential two, three players who can step onto that court.

‘But I know his standards, I know what he stands for, so I need to prepare the players really well so when they step into the first-team environment they are ready and prepared.’

On his first conversation with Arteta after the Spaniard’s return to the Emirates, Mertesacker continued: ‘I mean I was really, really excited for him coming to the club.

‘He was captain, I was vice-captain at that time, so I kind of learnt standing next to him in the dressing room, in meetings with the players.

‘What he demanded from me, “You need to stand next to me when we speak to the players”, so you kind of get that feeling that he holds you accountable but he trusts me in a way that will be really, really special.

‘And now we’re getting in a rhythm and it just feels like we’re back again in the days when we played and we had the trust for each other. So I’m literally really excited for us moving forward as we have two key roles, with Edu as well.

‘So I would say that we have a good chance and a good possibility to really grow from here as a club and you can almost see even in the first team, small steps but the right steps are being taken right now.’

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