Sunday was an emotional day for Arsenal fans all over the world.
Arsene Wenger, the longest serving manager in Premier League history, managed his final home game with the Gunners in a perfect 5-0 win against Burnley and club captain, Per Mertesacker, also played his last game in front of the Arsenal fans.
Although Mertesacker has seen little game time since becoming the captain of Arsenal in 2016, the German has been seen as one of the most respected figures in the club and a man who was admired by many of the younger players in the team.
Now that the centre back has decided to call it time on his prestigious career, Arsenal will not only be looking for a new manager, but also a new captain. So who should the club choose as Mertesacker’s successor?
The obvious picks
Let’s just get these two players out of the way first since as they are the standout favourites to take the armband of Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere.
Koscielny has practically been the Arsenal captain for the past two seasons. With Mertesacker out injured for the majority of the past two seasons, the 32-year-old Frenchman has been the spiritual leader of the club for the past two years.
However, with Koscielny out for a minimum of six months following a heart-breaking Achilles injury in the Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid that will see the veteran defender out till Christmas, whoever comes in next may want to appoint someone who will be part of the first team when the season restarts next summer. Enter Wilshere
Since Wilshere made his Arsenal debut at the age of 16, the midfielder has always been dubbed as the future Gunners captain. His no-fear attitude and persistence to give it 100% for the club make him a standout for the armband.
Also add into account that the 26-year-old has finally gone an entire Premier League season with Arsenal without picking up a long-term injury and has also been impressive for the Gunners, ‘Captain Jack’ could well be the next player to lead the Arsenal.
The fan favourite
Although talk of who should be the next Arsenal captain has been shadowed by who will become the next club manager, fans have a player in mind who they want to be the next man to wear the armband in the 2018/19 season, Aaron Ramsey.
The Welshman has been one of the Gunners’ best players this season. His impact in the side when he has started has been incredible, as he has quietly tallied up 11 goals and 11 assists in all competitions in this campaign in just 31 appearances.
Just like Wilshere, injuries have kept the #8 out of the team for numerous patches of this season. However, when Ramsey is fit and playing regularly for the Gunners, his quality and consistency in recent months make him a standout shout for next Arsenal captain.
The wild card
Koscielny, Wilshere and Ramsey. All three of these players would make for excellent captains come the start of the next season. However I would argue that there’s one more player in the squad that deserves to be in contention for the armband.
And that player is Granit Xhaka.
Now before you start grabbing your pitchforks and demand me to be lynched, hear me out for a second.
Was Xhaka worth the £35 million Arsenal spent on him? No.
Will Xhaka ever be the central midfielder we thought we were getting when he signed from Borussia Monchengladbach? Probably not.
But there’s one thing the Swiss midfielder offers that every player in the Arsenal team cannot, and that’s experience captaining a side.
A born leader
Xhaka became the youngest captain of his former German side at the age of 22 and has been given the armband for his national team on multiple occasions when Stephan Lichtsteiner has been out of the side, and when the central midfielder left Gladbach for Arsenal he was signed for the sole reason of adding discipline to the midfield.
Of course, this has not happened. Why this has not happened remains unclear, but with the club set for massive change over the summer, the latest manager could restore the confidence in Xhaka by handing him the captains armband and reminding the Swiss midfielder what he is capable of and what he can do for the club on and off the pitch.