Per Mertesacker, following an announcement on July 7th, will lead the Arsenal Academy from the 2018/19 season onward, which of course means this is his final season as a professional footballer.
The World Cup winner (with Germany in 2014) will only be 33-years-old when he hangs up his boots as a player, but even now, current Arsenal stars are singing his praises as a prospective manager down the line:
“I always see Per as a role model,” Mesut Ozil told Arsenal official site last year last year. “He’s very focused, very professional. He does his job 100 per cent – he’s not the sort of person who does things by half measures.”
The man himself claims he feels “so welcomed here by this club and by the idea of taking over at such a young stage,” but before that happens, he's got one final ambition:
To become a Premier League champion with the club he's served since 2011.
With all this in mind the multiple FA Cup winner gave the Arsenal site a far ranging interview, with some choice excerpts as follows...
Did he have other options beside transitioning towards the Academy?
''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.''
On whether he's changed any of his preparations for what will be his final season:
''No, it’s the same focus on being 100 per cent professional. It’s very important to get it right in pre-season, to get the workload in and be sensible with your body and mind. There are lots of parts you try to improve, so it’s the same kind of desperation to be the best I can be.''
Per played a blinder in the FA Cup final; how did he feel the morning after?
''It was a pity because we had no parade to celebrate as much as we wanted to. That was the only thing. It was absolutely amazing to see how things can turn around literally in one game.
That was the most exciting thing about it, to see how quickly things turn around in football. There was a lot of doubt before the game and I can understand that, even from the fans. Is he still able to play at the highest level? Things like that.''
After seeing most of their former players - such as Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira and of course, Dennis Bergkamp - continue their footballing careers elsewhere, it will reassure the fans to know one of their loyal servants has chosen to remain within the club and hopefully, it will prove beneficial in the long term.