Per Mertesacker’s career as a professional career is winding down to a close as the 33-year-old expressed his wishes to retire after the current season. The Arsenal centre-back was quoted, “My body is finished. Everyone says I should enjoy the last year, to play as much as possible and take everything in. I would rather sit on the bench or – even better – in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free.”
Mertesacker has struggled with his fitness over the past couple of seasons and has appeared in only 13 games for the Gunners in that time. After enduring a tough period with rehabilitation, it looks like the towering 6 feet 6 inches defender is ready to end his playing career and join Arsenal’s backroom staff.
Mertesacker has been a remarkable profession throughout his time with the Gunners and has won the FA Cup 3 times and the Community Shield twice. His brilliant positioning sense and footballing sense has been rewarded with 104 caps for the German national team, not to mention the 2014 FIFA World Cup trophy.
He came to Emirates in the summer of 2011, following the 8-2 loss the club endured against Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United from Bundesliga side, Werder Bremen. Arsene Wenger was quick to hand Mertesacker the captain’s armband after impressive in his first 2 seasons with commanding displays at the back.
Even with the number of injuries the German international has had to endure, his leadership ability has been second to none even when he is off the pitch. His departure will certainly lead a massive gap in Arsenal’s vulnerable defence.
A replacement is highly necessary and here are a few candidates Wenger should consider ahead of the summer transfer window.
The 23-year-old is one of best centre-halves in the La Liga and has been on Arsenal’s radar for quite some time now. He has been capped 37 times for the Uruguay national team and is expected to take the stage in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. His composed presence along with an ability to read the game well is what sets him apart from the rest.
The Napoli man is a defensive beast and is attracting major attention from Premier League sides. A robust, physically imposing centre-back with an ability to distribute the ball will be a wonderful addition to the Arsenal squad.
Diop plies his trade for Ligue 1 outfit, Toulouse is currently one of the brightest prospects in European football. Diop has been an inspiring presence ever since he made his debut for Toulouse back in 2015 along with 16-year-old Alphonse Areola.
Diop’s leadership ability is one of his most redeeming qualities which has allowed him to make 76 senior appearances in Ligue 1 and 31 caps for the France U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21 side.
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