Why Per Mertesacker should be appointed skipper next season regardless of Thomas Vermaelen’s future
At the minute the club are facing a pretty awkward situation regarding Thomas Vermaelen’s future being in a three way between himself, Arsenal and league rivals Manchester United. The Arsenal skipper does seem to be pretty tight-lipped on his future at the moment but the fact that this current predicament even exists is why Arsenal should decide on a new skipper regardless of the outcome.
In light of recent transfer activity, as well as current speculation surrounding the club regarding new additions, Arsenal seem to be entering a more positive and ambitious phase. The new Puma deal which enhances Arsenal’s financial muscle as well as ending their well documented trophy drought in may has brought a spark back into Arsene Wenger and everybody associated with the club.
This new era will require an inspirational leader on the pitch who is a guaranteed starter, that man is Per Mertesacker.
Mertesacker joined the club during the bonkers summer of 2011 when Gooners witnessed two of their best players, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, leave under sour circumstances.
This left the club in a hot mess scrapping around for replacements and further additions. As a result, many players were bought by the club during the final week of the transfer window, including Mertesacker. A large amount of signings made it difficult for Arsenal to find their rhythm, and they struggled in the early parts of the season as did Mertesacker throughout.
Wenger has always heaped praise on Mertesacker’s character for coming strongly out of that early period in his Arsenal career. Per’s become a fans’ favourite having transformed from the sluggish Big Friendly Giant to a brick wall at the heart of the Arsenal defence – forming a telepathic partnership with Laurent Koscielny in the process, which has kept Vermaelen out of the team.
Should Vermaelen leave I’d hope this would be the last captain that departs the club within a few years of being appointed. This situation could arise again should Wenger decide to promote Mikel Arteta from vice-captain to main.
Most are aware that Arteta is gradually declining and struggles in a deep two-man midfield at times. Should Arsenal address this position by bringing in a new midfielder then we could have a Vermaelen situation all over again, where the skipper can’t get a game.
It makes perfect sense that Arsenal’s 2nd vice-captain Mertesacker should take the role. Per is one of the club’s most consistent players, the most vocal on the pitch, one of the eldest and most experienced having been capped over 100 times for World Cup winners Germany.
The FA Cup semi-final was one of his finest moments of inspiration where he brought Arsenal level shortly after gifting Wigan a penalty. The joy and relief was clear to see on the face of Mertesacker in his celebration, everybody understood how important that moment was as Arsenal progressed to the final via a penalty shoot-out.
Mertesacker always continues to fight and galvanise his team-mates when the chips are down, his own performance and effort rubs off on those around him.
In regards to Mertesacker’s future in the team, Arsenal can be grateful that he has been able to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and has learnt how to play to his strengths – intelligence rather than physical or technical brilliance. Positioning himself, knowing when to stay on his feet or dive into a tackle and using his stature to pressure attackers could all see him maintain his current level well into his mid-30’s. He’s 29 at the minute.
In conclusion to outline the headline I believe the club should make this choice, even if Vermaelen does stay. If Arsenal can’t find decent enough cover in defence whilst trying to secure targets in other positions it may be worth keeping Thomas around, they don’t need to rush into strengthening United if they plan to.
Wenger has always praised his character and professionalism so it will be interesting to see that tested if he was forced into giving up the arm-band to a more worthy candidate.
This article previously appeared on http://www.thebottomcorner.com/and we thank them for allowing us to re-produce