Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker has revealed what Mikel Arteta demanded of him when he arrived back at The Emirates in December.
Mertesacker says he relishing working alongside Arteta and Edu producing the next generation Arsenal stars. In fact the German has revealed that he is looking forward to giving Arteta ‘headaches’ by producing young talent who can compete for a place in the first team.
Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah have all been afforded significant game time since Arteta arrived before Christmas.
But it was Arteta’s insistence that Mertesacker stood alongside when he talks to the players that has inspired the German coach.
Speaking to Ian Wright on his YouTube channel for Adidas Home Team, Mertesacker explained: “We are really keen on giving Mikel Arteta a lot of headaches, you know.
“He must be thinking, “What’s going on in the academy?”
“Every year there is the potential two, three players who can step onto that court. But I know his standards, I know what he stands for, so I need to prepare the players really well so when they step into the first-team environment they are ready and prepared.”
The former Gunners centre-back also revealed details of his first chat with Arteta.
Mertesacker added: “I mean I was really, really excited for him coming to the club.
“He was captain, I was vice-captain at that time, so I kind of learnt standing next to him in the dressing room, in meetings with the players.
“What he demanded from me, ‘You need to stand next to me when we speak to the players’, so you kind of get that feeling that he holds you accountable but he trusts me in a way that will be really, really special.
“And now we’re getting in a rhythm and it just feels like we’re back again in the days when we played and we had the trust for each other. So I’m literally really excited for us moving forward as we have two key roles, with Edu as well.
“So I would say that we have a good chance and a good possibility to really grow from here as a club and you can almost see even in the first team, small steps but the right steps are being taken right now.”