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    Sunday, 30 July 2017

    Per Mertesacker aims to inspire young Arsenal players to success

    Per Mertesacker says Arsenal want Alexis Sanchez to stay because of the special talent he brings.

    Shaka Hislop reacts to Per Mertesacker's decision to head up Arsenal's academy after the 2017/18 season.

    LONDON -- Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker says he wants to influence the club "on a different level" when he takes over at the academy next year.

    Mertesacker announced this month that he will retire at the end of the forthcoming season and become Arsenal's new academy director.

    The former Germany international, speaking after Arsenal's 5-2 Emirates Cup win over Benfica, said he was excited about "getting an opportunity to work here and inspire young people."

    He added: "That is my path, and that is why I made this decision. But the club has so much trust in me, and that's why I took that job as well."

    Some have speculated that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could be preparing Mertesacker as his eventual replacement.

    But the defender said: "I have no ambition [to become a manager] at the minute, because I have no coaching background.

    "So learning will be something that I have to really do, but I embrace that. I love this club, and I'm hoping that I can have an impact on a different level."

    Mertesacker has already started mentoring academy players such as 17-year-old Reiss Nelson, who has impressed in the club's preseason games.

    "I like to see them playing that well, but it takes more than that," he said. "And to educate them a little bit is fun for me -- to be a helping hand, to communicate well with them.

    Per Mertesacker wants to offer guidance to young players.

    "They need some guidance -- they're not quite there. [I am] influencing them on the pitch, being that guy who is questioning things, who is not just praising, who is always reminding them what it takes."

    Mertesacker is also helping new signings Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette settle in at Arsenal and said fans needed to give ex-Lyon star Lacazette time to adjust to the Premier League, calling it "a huge step" from Ligue 1.

    He praised Kolasinac for his performance against Benfica, saying: "He is a presence and he fits well into this team, and he's quick as well -- he looks lively.

    "He can play a deeper role in that back three because he's got that tactical education from Germany -- you can feel that in training."

    Mertesacker added the continued uncertainty surrounding Alexis Sanchez was not affecting the team and stressed: "We cannot just concentrate on one player. That doesn't work.

    "Everyone wants him to stay because he's a player with the X factor. But still, we're not focusing as much on that because it's another season and we have new signings, trying to implement them into our game.

    "To focus just on one player is not what this club is about."



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