Per Mertesacker reveals plans to deliver 'world leading' academy at Arsenal to support Mikel Arteta's youth revolution | The Sun

PER MERTESACKER wants to deliver a "world leading" academy system to support Mikel Arteta's youth revolution at Arsenal.

The former Gunners defender is now the Academy Manager at Hale End helping to prime north London's best youngsters to make the step up to the first team.

Arteta's side has been transformed in recent years with a number of more senior players being cast aside for young and hungry replacements.

However, the majority of those replacements have been bought for a fee from other clubs.

Now, as Hale End open their doors for a behind-the-scenes documentary, Mertesacker wants more and more players coming from within the club.

Mertesacker said: "Players like [Albert] Sambi Lokonga who is playing, these are players who are fairly young and are part of the new generation of Arsenal Football Club which is getting younger.

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"I believe as an academy we should be in a position to provide those players for the first team in the future."

"I am really conscious that alignment means as well that once we get more successful and get back into the Champions League, that is the level for our players to be at.

"With the tweaks we are making [in the academy] and becoming younger by acquiring talent from the outside to become younger, this is a message to the academy: we need to be world leading.

"To become that we are on a journey. How close are we? I’m not sure.

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“We’re competing with the best academies in England but also in Europe and the world. I think we’re in a good position, but ready to do more.”

The academy has already delivered two stars to Arteta's first team in Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

The pair from Hale End were crucial in getting supporters behind the project under Arteta and it can breed inspiration within the academy.

Mertesacker adds: “I couldn’t be more pleased how aligned we are in terms of the first team and the academy, and the success rubs off each other.

“I’m in a super happy place right now.”

UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP

Arteta and Mertesacker have a unique relationship.

Both joined Arsenal on deadline day in August 2011 and car-shared on their way to training in their early days before going on to become captain and vice-captain together on the pitch.

Now, both are trying to use that connection to drive Arsenal back to the heights of old.

Mertesacker said: “Mikel took me from the Grove Hotel to the training ground for the first three or four weeks, so clearly from the start of it we had a certain bond which then ended up being captain and vice-captain.

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“Did I imagine being in that position? No, but if you are really responsible and want to do well for the club I guess you put yourself in a position where you might end up where we are sitting right now.”

Inside Hale End premieres on 6th September via Arsenal’s YouTube channel, with two new episodes airing weekly every Tuesday, concluding on the 20th September. For more information on Inside Hale End and the Arsenal youth academy, please visit www.arsenal.com

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