By 90Min
October 07, 2017

World Cup-winning defender Per Mertesacker has criticised the mentality of young players coming through the ranks at their clubs, claiming that academy stars "need to be more realistic again".

The 33-year-old will be taking up a managerial role with Arsenal next season, moving over to the Gunners' academy and making his first steps on the path towards becoming a coach.

Speaking to Der Spiegel (via ESPN), Mertesacker gave Arsenal fans an insight as to what sort of things he'll be looking to change about the famous academy in north London next season.

"These days, there are only role models like [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi with all their tricks. No young player would say that he'd take an old-school defender, like myself, as a role model. You need to be cool, stylish and wear fancy boots," the German said.

"Young players these days soon only plan with football," he continued. "We need to be more realistic again. Many only think about a career in football and have no perspective off the pitch. Once they turn 15 it's only about who has an agent, who has a sponsorship deal, who will play for the national team.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

"I am not a product of a youth academy, and I'd dare to say I would not have made it in such a system.

"I was out for one year with growing problems. If you are out for a year today, you will never get back into the system. No chance. 

"I had my first agent when I was 20, my first sponsorship deal after my first Germany match. I was never part of the football hype. But these days you just can't prevent it."

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