Per Mertesacker set to lead Arsenal academy after retirement

Arsenal captain and World Cup winner Per Mertesacker has decided to turn his hand to youth development once he hangs up his boots this time next year.

The former German international has announced his retirement at the end of the upcoming season, and simultaneously spoke of his new role with the Gunners.

"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family," said Mertesacker.

"This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first-team.”

Arsenal have been looking for a full-time head of youth development since the departure of Andries Jonker, who left to become head coach of Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

Mertesacker to take charge of academy

Mertesacker's professionalism and experience, combined with his long held passion for Arsenal, saw him emerge as an ideal candidate for the vacant position.

Having been a supporter of the North London club since early childhood, Mertesacker will no doubt be delighted the powers that be decided to hire from within.

The former Werder Bremen man has won three FA Cups while at Arsenal, and as previously mentioned was a part of Germany's 2014 World Cup winning campaign.

Wenger praises Mertesacker's appointment

Long serving Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a clear supporter of the appointment, when asked for his thoughts on the board's decision, he said: “Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players."

The Frenchman added: "He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfil their potential. He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”

Interim academy coach Luke Hobbs will remain in charge until next year, after that Mertesacker will take control and in the process embark upon his new adventure in football.