Per Mertesacker may be fully focused on his final year as a player, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t put plenty of thought into how he can help our rising stars.
The World Cup winner will take over as our new academy manager next summer, and he has a clear philosophy for how he can help those youngsters who are nearing a breakthrough.
“It’s good for me to see these youngsters on a daily basis. Some went with us on tour and now they’ll keep training with us, which is really important,” Mertesacker told the Arsenal Magazine.
“It’s not only one or two weeks where you show up and show your skills, or in one or two games. If there’s anything I can help with, they need to understand that they can talk, there is no need to hide. If you don’t know when training is or the communication’s not right, they need to let us know because there is a gap sometimes.
“They need to feel welcome because they’ve done a lot for us, they’ve contributed. To do that on a consistent level, because they’re not in the first-team dressing room at the moment, it creates a little bit of a gap. That can mean they don’t know where they are. Are they under-23s, under-19s or first team?
“It’s important that we keep in touch, communicate well. They’ve got huge potential and have high levels of skill, but it’s what you make of it. That’s something I’m going to address in the next couple of years.
“I respect them highly but the only ones who will make it are the ones who make the most of their potential. Talent means nothing to me, it’s all about hard work. I put the emphasis in that they’re not told how talented they are too much. Talent is what you make of it.”
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