Tuesday 24 April 2018

Gunners set to offer Mertesacker new contract

Per Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Per Mertesacker has started talks with Arsenal about a new contract, having shown this season that he is fully adjusted to life in English football.

The German centre-back has been excellent so far this season, his third in the Premier League, and spoke hopefully about the prospect of a new deal.

"I am very delighted here with the club, especially after the first year that was tough for me, a very tough challenge," Mertesacker said, revealing he was in discussion with the club over a new contract to recognise his recent performances.

"The boss always trusted me in a special way. So I think it is a little reward that we talk a bit on things, because I've one and a half years left.

"Overall there's no rush but it seems to be that some guys are delighted with my performance at the moment. I am pleased with the situation."

This has been Mertesacker's best season since he joined Arsenal in August 2011, and his partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been crucial to their rise to the top of the Premier League table and their Champions League group. Mertesacker said Arsene Wenger's faith had been vital.

INTELLIGENT

"I missed completely the pre-season (in 2011-12) so it was really hard when the transfer window shut and I had to play straight away, and it took me a while to respond to that level. The manager always trusted me, he said: 'you are intelligent enough to cope with problems'. It took time to settle down."

Mesut Ozil, Mertesacker's team-mate for Germany and previously for Werder Bremen, is now going through his own adjustment process. Despite suggestions that Ozil is starting to fade, Mertesacker insisted that he is developing well, with more to come.

"He is making good progress," said the defender. "He is in good form, you can see that. He was always a threat in every second (in Tuesday's win over Marseille). He never gave up, despite the penalty that he missed.

"We are delighted with him, especially in the transition from defence to offence. He is in good form and I think we will see more."

Ozil played well against the French side but he missed a penalty and another good chance. However, Mertesacker had no worries about his dry run in front of goal. "He gets himself into good positions so the goals will come for sure.

"At half-time we said we don't care, we just got on (with it) and that's just what he did, especially in the second half when we scored the second goal.

"He was the threat and he was in the right position to cross the ball to Jack (Wilshere). He's always a threat and we're delighted with him." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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