Per Mertesacker has again spoken of his long-standing admiration for English football and confirmed that Arsene Wenger has been trying to sign him since the World Cup in South Africa.
The summer acquisition, who has previously revealed that he owned an Arsenal jersey as a teenager, confirmed that only an injury crisis at former club Werder Bremen denied him the chance of playing for Arsenal last season.
“It nearly happened last year but I talked to the manager in Bremen and he stopped it because they had too many injuries. But we stayed in contact for a long time and that’s why I’m sure he wanted me for a long time.”
“England was always my favourite football land and if ever there was a chance to come to this country then it was always going to be to sign for this club.
“England is the motherland. Everyone in foreign countries speaks about English football. It’s famous. All the best players come here.”
Mertesacker, who is expected to line-up alongside Alex Song on Sunday, played against Spurs last term in the Europa League* but expects his first North London derby to be a completely different affair.
“I’ve heard a lot about the derbies, especially Arsenal and Tottenham. I’m looking forward to it. I played at White Hart Lane for Bremen in the Champions League. It’s good that I’ve played there but I think it will be different on Sunday.”
*A Thursday competition for teams who aren’t that good.