By Nick Ames in Lagos
While the bulk of Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad limber up for the new season in Asia, three of its members have arrived in an altogether different corner of the world.
Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski touched down in Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday evening, ready for a series of events with fans and Club partners in what is one of the world’s biggest hotbeds of Arsenal support.
Millions of Nigerians claim affiliation to the Gunners - and our trio will meet a number of them in what promises to be a memorable whistle-stop visit.
Despite arriving in a relatively remote section of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, word quickly got around that three Gunners were in the building - and there was a sizeable welcoming party outside the terminal, with fans particularly eager to see themselves photographed alongside Bac, who is of Senegalese origin.
All three were presented Nigerian national team shirts, bearing their names, upon arrival at our hotel - and there will be one making its way back to London with the Arsenal manager’s name on it, too!
The players have revelled in their brief time here so far, full of curiosity and questions about their new surroundings. Two of them certainly had an education on the flight to Lagos.
After a refueling stop in Palma, Bacary was invited to squeeze himself into the cockpit of our 13-seater aeroplane to experience take-off - while Lukas Podolski began his first trip with Arsenal in style, taking the jump seat in time for our landing at Lagos and filming much of the experience.
Today’s events begin with a dance workout alongside local pop star Kaffi, with the players learning some new moves for partner Malta Guinness’s new ‘Low Sugar Workout’. It will be just the start of a full day’s events with supporters and local media - during which we can all expect the scale of love for Arsenal among the 170 million people in this country to well and truly hit home.
Keep an eye on Arsenal.com on Monday for more news - and an exclusive gallery of the Gunners’ visit to Nigeria.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 29 Jul 2012