'We'll come together to let him leave in style'

Per Mertesacker

As club captain, many people are understandably keen to hear from Per Mertesacker on Arsene Wenger's decision to stand down at the end of the season.

The World Cup winner spoke to the media after Sunday's 4-1 win against West Ham and discussed the boss, the players' response, delivering the perfect send-off and facing Atletico Madrid.

This is what Per had to say:

on Friday's announcement…
We were surprised, first of all, and then then emotional and sad. You can feel that he has got a lot left in him in terms of the power he gave to the team. The message he gave to the team was that we want to win every single game and leave in style. We, as players, gave immediate feedback that we feel the responsibility to fight for him every time we step on the field.

on Per's rallying cry to players…
The team responded to his announcement fairly quickly. Everyone was surprised and sad. We had an atmosphere of, 'We want to do it for you to send you off in the best possible way'. It is not about a single person, this club is built on a lot of people who worked here for a long time and he was one of those. His story is unique so we want to give him the best possible send off because in one way we are responsible for the situation as well.

on whether the players feel responsible…
We sit here in one boat and we have not been that successful over the past couple of years. We won trophies, we won the FA Cup, but in terms of achieving Champions League football every season we have not done it. In terms of top-four finishes, we are not able to achieve it this season. We have been outperformed by other teams and you have to admit that. There are a lot of people responsible, not only the manager. It has not sunk in enough to say we are guilty, but we are as well responsible for the situation.

on Wenger's stamina…
He has power in himself. He is ready to step up and stand in front of the media every single time we cannot produce a performance. I am delighted we gave one answer today but there are more answers to come in the next couple of weeks.


22 years, three titles, seven FA Cups... one Arsene Wenger

on the people being linked with the job…
As you could see when Ferguson left Manchester United it was a difficult decision for them who was the successor. I have absolutely no advice. Ivan Gazidis said it is going to be the toughest challenge for this club going forward. It is a tough decision. There are some names out there but I do not want to comment on that. It is now the club’s decision. We have people working for the club who can see where we are heading. We have a young team who stand for something and Arsene Wenger was the best possible fit. Now we have to find another good fit to start a new era. This is what this club stands for, to find someone who can start a new era. That is really tough because in modern football normally managers do not last very long. This unique story will be unique forever. Let’s find the best for our club. The club has the power to decide who is the best person. As I am well informed, a lot of people will stay because of the values they stand for and the club will protect these values. Whoever comes in is obviously someone very respectful who will lead this club forward. But this club as well stands for continuity and they have decided on a lot of people for next season already and I think they will stick to that.

on if the coaches are going to stay…
I don't know what's going to happen. In football anything can happen. As long as that has not been decided it will then trickle down to all the departments. I'm aware of the situation. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

on whether any present is planned for Wenger...
We do not have anything planned. The best thing for him is to win games. He made it very clear to us that is his clear target now, to win the Europa League and every match we are going to face now.

on whether Wenger will stay in management…
I have no idea. Honestly. The news surprised myself as well. Now we can come together and let him leave in style. And the fans as well, there is kind of a turnaround, and that is what we love to see. 

on winning the Europa League as the perfect send-off..
Yes. We have to respect Atletico. They have reached Champions League finals in recent years so we need to respect especially the home game on Thursday. I would love not to concede in that game to put ourselves in the best possible position. 

on whether his position as academy manager will remain in place…
Yes, I have not heard anything that is going to change.

on when he starts…
September 1.


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