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Ali: "I was blown away with Per's vision"

Mehmet Ali has praised the vision of academy manager Per Mertesacker after becoming our new Under-21 Head Coach.

Mehmet, who joined us from Reading in January, initially worked as assistant to former head coach Kevin Betsy, but will now take charge of our young side for their upcoming PL2 and cup campaigns.

Our new Head Coach cited the influence of Mertesacker when it came to taking the role and insists his previous experience of working with the club will stand him in good stead for his new position.

"When I had an interview for the role and I had a one-to-one with Per before I took the job on, I was blown away," he said.

"His morals, his values and beliefs and his vision to try and push this academy to be the best academy possible, to be a world-class academy, to try help players to get in Arsenal’s first team, that was something that really struck me having that one-to-one with him.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the club for six months already, so I’ve got a good understanding of the players and it definitely helps a smoother transition to the position that I’m in now."

Luke Hobbs, Jack Wilshere, Mehmet Ali, Per Mertesacker at London Colney

Arguably Mehmet's most important duty will be to maintain the pathway from our Under-21 side to the first team, ensuring our youngsters are well-equipped for a first-team environment, something our new head coach is looking forward to working with Mikel Arteta on.

"Mikel has a huge influence on the academy, he has a huge interest in the academy as well as all of his coaching staff," he said.

"I talk with them regularly about the players, about the under-21 players and I’ve been very fortunate enough to be in a position where they’re supporting me in terms of what they’re looking for, which I think is key.

"It’s really important to know what Mikel is actually looking for, to then give that information to the players to make sure that they’re showing that when they do get the opportunity to go up with the first-team.

While Mehmet is taking up the post armed with his own coaching philosophy and principles, he is fully aware of respecting his predecessors and the club's traditions.

"I think you have to be very respectful for the club and where you’re at," he added.

"Arsenal is an unbelievable football club with outstanding history, you look at the times of George Graham and the ability for them to win games 1-0 and the unbelievable back four they had, to then go onto Arsene Wenger’s era, the Invincibles and the players they produced with flair and class. So I think you have to take all of that into account to understand the club you’re at.

"You have to look at the management in terms of Per and Luke and exactly what it is that they want from the academy in terms of a coaching philosophy, what is it that they want to see on a daily basis out on the pitch.

"Most importantly you have to take into account Mikel and the first-team and you just look at the calibre of work that he’s doing in terms of the standards that he’s reaching with the players, and his expectations on and off the pitch. You have to take all of that into account before you can even start thinking about your coaching session on the grass."

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