Per Mertesacker Appointed Arsenal’s Captain for the New Season
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has been handed the captain’s armband by Arsene Wenger for the new Premier League season.
Mertesacker, 31, had seemed the likely choice for the captaincy until he sustained a knee injury last month that needed surgery, with Wenger having said the German isn’t expected back for a few months.
But the Arsenal boss has handed the centre-back the armband regardless, and said vice-captains Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla will fill in until Mertesacker returns.
“Per is a very respected figure in the dressing room, is loved as well and is also a very demanding figure. I think it is absolutely natural to be [him],” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“[In his absence] that’s where it will be taken by the assistants. One of them will be [Laurent] Koscielny, also [Santi] Cazorla — the experienced players — Cech maybe. “We will have a group of people that will take care of the energy levels and the problems of the team. That will be down a lot to the experienced players.”
Mertesacker replaces Mikel Arteta, who retired as a player when his contract expired in June and has joined Manchester City’s coaching staff under fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola.
Arteta also missed much of last season with injuries and struggled to make the first-team even when fit. As did his predecessor Thomas Vermaelen before being sold to Barcelona, and this will be the fourth season in a row where Arsenal have a captain who won’t be a regular on the pitch — at least not until after Christmas.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere added: “It is good news for us. For me anyway, over the last few seasons he has been like a captain,” Wilshere told the Arsenal website. “He is a natural leader and I know he has picked up a injury, but he can still bring so much to us as a team. I’m sure if you ask the other boys, they will say he would be an obvious choice for captain. We are happy.