The German centre-back joined Arsenal in August 2011 from Werder Bremen and has since made 207 appearances under Wenger. However, the 32-year-old has yet to make a single appearance for the club this season having suffered a knee injury back in April. Despite this, Mertesacker is seen by Wenger as an important player and of course the club captain, and securing the German’s services for another 12-months was ‘an easy decision’ to make.
Quoted on Arsenal.com, the Frenchman said:
‘He is a leader of the team and he is also one of the four centre backs who has experience and can guide the team.
‘There were no negotiations in fact, because he had an option for extension. So it’s not really a new contract, it’s just an extension of the old one. We had to take that option early in the season and the decision was made quite easily.
‘On the pitch he has his own technical attributes, that is his reading of the game, his intelligence, his guidance. He’s good in the air because of his size.
‘Mentally, he’s a guy who brings a level of urgency into the team, a level of focus, a level of desire to do well and he’s very demanding with the people around him. He’s very respected as well and that’s why he gets a lot from the players around him.’
Mertesacker is training with the first-team and is expected to make a full recover in a matter of weeks. However, he may find it difficult to get back into the starting XI with Shkodran Mustafi performing well since his arrival from Valencia last summer.
Mertesacker was but one of a few players whose contracts are under 18 months, in fact, the German’s was set to expire at the end of the season and he will be delighted at extending his stay with the Gunners for another year.
But Was Wenger and the club right to extend his stay? A lot of the fans will be asking why bother as he will struggle to get back into the team, while others will believe his experience will benefit those younger than him. I myself am with the former group. I don’t get why they extended his deal as they could have easily found a replacement for him over the summer.