By Nicholas Ismail

Per Mertesacker believes Theo Walcott’s love of Arsenal has kept him at the club for a decade.

The forward joined the Gunners from Southampton as a 16-year-old on January 20, 2006 and has gone on to make 326 appearances, scoring 81 times.

He is a role model to a lot of young people

Per Mertesacker

According to Mertesacker, Walcott’s longevity also stems from his consistency.

“Ten years, it’s an unbelievable achievement to play on a consistent level for such a long time in the same club,” Mertesacker said. “That is rare in modern football and we are happy to have him.

“I think what kept him here was the spirit of the group and his love for the club, and that is something I look up to.

“He is a role model to a lot of young people, and he plays a major role now and that’s what he likes to play for us, being much more experienced than when he came.

“He looks different as well… it is amazing to see such a player play for us.”

Per Mertesacker and Theo Walcott
Per Mertesacker and Theo Walcott

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20 Jan 2016