By 90Min
August 23, 2017

Per Mertesacker has called on Arsenal's aspiring young footballers that they will need to work hard to fulfil their potential and become the club's next big star.

The veteran defender will take up the position of academy manager when he hangs up his boots at the end of this season, and has already laid down the gauntlet to Arsenal's youth team players.

In an interview with the Gunners' official website, Mertesacker insisted that anyone harbouring ambitions of playing at Emirates Stadium in the future would need to keep their nose to the angle grind because talent wasn't enough to make it at the top level.

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He said: “I respect them highly but the only ones who will make it are the ones who make the most of their potential. Talent means nothing to me, it’s all about hard work. I put the emphasis in that they’re not told how talented they are too much. Talent is what you make of it.”

Some of the club's Under-19 and Under-23 stars were welcomed into the first-team fold during the pre-season fixture schedule to give them an idea of what to expect in the senior squad set-up.

Mertesacker explained why it was important that the club's proteges were given a taster of what could be theirs in the years to come, before going on to clarify just how important it would be for the north Londoners' youngsters to speak up if they're unsure about elements such as training or their role in whatever team they're playing in.

He added: “It’s good for me to see these youngsters on a daily basis. Some went with us on tour and now they’ll keep training with us, which is really important.

“It’s not only one or two weeks where you show up and show your skills, or in one or two games. If there’s anything I can help with, they need to understand that they can talk, there is no need to hide. If you don’t know when training is or the communication’s not right, they need to let us know because there is a gap sometimes.

“They need to feel welcome because they’ve done a lot for us, they’ve contributed. To do that on a consistent level, because they’re not in the first-team dressing room at the moment, it creates a little bit of a gap. That can mean they don’t know where they are. Are they under-23s, under-19s or first team?

“It’s important that we keep in touch, communicate well. They’ve got huge potential and have high levels of skill, but it’s what you make of it. That’s something I’m going to address in the next couple of years."

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