Per Mertesacker reflects on direction of Arsenal after Arsène Wenger reign

Arsenal academy head Per Mertesacker reflects on club pathway after Arsène Wenger era

Mertesacker criticizes past club recruitment

Arsenal academy director and former fan-favorite center-back Per Mertesacker did not hold back when he recently gave his honest assessment of how the club tackles the transfer market after legendary headmaster Arsène Wenger called time on his storied managerial career in north London.

The former German international defender recently sat down with Süddeutsche Zeitung and reflected on what was a troubling period regarding player acquisition for Arsenal, one which he gave a critical once-over of;

“We are in a state of upheaval and are building a team capable of development, which should be peppered with players from our own youth and professionals from abroad

In the meantime, we had lost our way. We tried to make the connection to the top faster with costly commitments. We fell on our face with that.”

Certainly, Arsenal deserves a fair amount of flak for some of the transfer decisions that gripped the club in the aftermath of the Wenger reign at the Emirates.

Deals for the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis, Nicolas Pépé, Willian, Pablo Marí, and an unnecessary combined ~£100million double swoop for two main strikers in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the same season (2017/18) highlight some of the misguidedness behind the recruitment policy at Arsenal under a regime that was briefly headed by Raul Sanllehí.

Now under the combined influence of former Arsenal midfielders Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar, the club’s ability to bring in talent with a clear aim targeting progression has paid off in spades when the club splashed ~£150million on six first-team assets that have all shone in their first season at the club.

Arteta assessed – and appreciated – by former clubmate

With direction on and off the pitch well underway at Arsenal, Per Mertesacker also commented on current boss Mikel Arteta as the former Gunners captain continues to make positive strides at the Emirates in a season that sees the club sitting fourth just before New Years Day.

Arsenal academy head Per Mertesacker reflects on club pathway after Arsène Wenger eraArsenal academy head Per Mertesacker reflects on club pathway after Arsène Wenger era

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta applauds the fans after the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on December 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Following up on the Wenger reign after the failed stint by Unai Emery was no easy task and at times Arteta’s job was certainly – at least on the surface – under threat at Arsenal, but the Basque-native has responded expertly while guiding the club’s young core to rave reviews this season. Reviews that Mertesacker participates in;

“It is not easy to find successors who bring good ideas and who at the same time involve club employees.

Mikel has a different knit than Arsene, is intense and focused. He tries to be very active as a trainer, to respond to the new generation and to clearly show what is required. The current generation needs more requirements, while in my time much more was regulated in dialogue with one another.”

With both Arteta and Mertesacker excelling in their individual roles as part of the leadership group in one of the worlds biggest football clubs, it is fair to say that Arsène Wenger could stick his chest out with pride at the work two of his former players have continued to revel in at Arsenal.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 19 38 47
2 Liverpool FC 19 34 41
3 Chelsea FC 19 29 41
4 Arsenal FC 19 9 35
5 West Ham United 19 9 31
6 Tottenham Hotspur 17 2 30
7 Manchester United 17 2 28
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 -1 25
9 Leicester City 18 -2 25
10 Crystal Palace 19 0 23
11 Brighton & Hove Albion 17 -1 23
12 Aston Villa 18 -4 22
13 Southampton FC 19 -9 21
14 Brentford FC 17 -3 20
15 Everton FC 17 -8 19
16 Leeds United 18 -18 16
17 Watford FC 17 -13 13
18 Burnley FC 15 -7 11
19 Newcastle United 19 -23 11
20 Norwich City 19 -34 10
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 15
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 10
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 8
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 8
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 8
Raphinha Leeds United 8
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 7
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 7
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City 7
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 7
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 6
Jorginho Chelsea FC 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 6
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City 5
Saka, Bukayo Arsenal FC 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5

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