Per Mertesacker says he hopes Arsenal find a ‘good fit’ when they start looking for Arsene Wenger’s successor and believes the club is dedicated to protecting the values brought to the fore by the outgoing Frenchman.
“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club,” read a line of Wenger’s statement as he announced his departure on Thursday. For Mertesacker, due to hang up his boots in June before taking up a role as head of the Arsenal Academy in September, the words are particularly poignant.
The World Cup winner is well aware of the Gunners commitment to fostering young talent and playing exciting football and insists whoever is appointed will continue the philosophy with a helping hand from those already inside the club.
“I have absolutely no advice. Ivan Gazidis said it is going to be the toughest challenge for this club going forward. It is a tough decision.
“There are some names out there but I do not want to comment on that. It is now the club’s decision. We have people working for the club who can see where we are heading.
“We have a young team who stand for something and Arsene Wenger was the best possible fit. Now we have to find another good fit to start a new era.
“This is what this club stands for, to find someone who can start a new era. That is really tough because in modern football normally managers do not last very long. This unique story will be unique forever. Let’s find the best for our club.
“The club has the power to decide who is the best person. As I am well informed, a lot of people will stay because of the values they stand for and the club will protect these values.
“Whoever comes in is obviously someone very respectful who will lead this club forward. But this club as well stands for continuity and they have decided on a lot of people for next season already and I think they will stick to that.”
Mertesacker was also asked if the players felt responsible for Wenger’s departure, coming as it does off the back of a second successive year finishing outside the top four.
He replied: “We sit here in one boat and we have not been that successful over the past couple of years. We won trophies, we won the FA Cup, but in terms of achieving Champions League football every season we have not done it.
“In terms of top-four finishes, we are not able to achieve it this season. We have been outperformed by other teams and you have to admit that.
“There are a lot of people responsible, not only the manager. It has not sunk in enough to say we are guilty, but we are as well responsible for the situation.”