Per Mertesacker admits that Jack Wilshere proved him wrong

25 April, 2023

Unfortunately for Jack Wilshere and Pep Mertesacker, during their time at Arsenal, they couldn’t achieve the heights Arsene Wenger aspired these footballers to be. However, they did win multiple FA Cups, a competition where Arsenal proved to be a strong force for many years despite not being in title contention for a long time. 

Shortly before his departure in 2016 as a player, Mikel Arteta left his chief executive a note about Per Mertesacker. “You can’t lose this guy,” he told Ivan Gazidis. “Just put him somewhere. Arteta’s playing days finished and a transformative apprenticeship in coaching with Pep Guardiola around the corner. 

One extraordinary football mind was about to up sticks, for a few years at least, but another remained within reach. Arteta knew Arsenal could not afford to let Per Mertesacker slip away. Gazidis managed to keep Mertesacker and he went onto become the academy manager of the club. He was known to be methodical, organised, cut out for the kind of upstairs position that might not necessarily be gratified with immediate rewards.

After Mertesacker, one of his former teammates Jack Wilshere took over the club. As it turned out, Wilshere led the Gunners to Youth FA Cup glory, an achievement that Mertesacker came close to achieving back in 2018 when he had Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe in his team. 

“When I started I thought I’d see stuff after two years but I got rid of that notion because you have to look at a 10-year cycle in the academy,” Mertesacker says. “I’m looking at the next three years thinking: ‘This is when the real work starts.’”

“I was probably thinking the same, he will not make that transition, but he proved me wrong in that sense,” he says of Wilshere, who worked with the academy in a less formal capacity last season. “I had a perception about him, playing and being super-talented but probably not fulfilling his potential because of all the injuries.”

The Gunners, having achieved the some silverware at the youth level, are also aspiring to do the same at the senior level, but having dropped points against Southampton at home, the task only gets much trickier for Arteta’s men. Stay updated on Football news and betting by visiting Nextbet