June 14, 2021

Arsenal hero Mertesacker admits he was a ‘panic buy’ after 8-2 mauling by Man Utd

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The former defender, who savoured World Cup glory with Germany while on the Gunners’ books, accepts that some signings are “messy”

Arsenal cult hero Per Mertesacker admits that he was a “panic buy” when making his way to Emirates Stadium during the summer transfer window of 2011.

The Gunners moved to bring in the towering centre-half from Werder Bremen after seeing serious leaks spring in their back four.

A humiliating 8-2 defeat at old adversaries Manchester United proved to be the final straw for then boss Arsene Wenger.

Mertesacker was considered to boast qualities that the north London outfit were crying out for, with there an alarming lack of leadership down the spine of their side.

A man who would go on to savour World Cup glory with Germany during his time with Arsenal, while also taking the captain’s armband, delivered on expectations across seven years with the Gunners.

Mertesacker, who is now in charge of the club’s academy system, is, however, prepared to concede that he was a “messy” signing that may not have happened in different circumstances.

He told Arsenal’s Lockdown Podcast: “I consider myself to be a panic buy. I’ve got no problems with that whatsoever because sometimes these times are rushed.

“Football is rushed, especially when the transfer window is about to close. At that time Arsenal had two or three days to make adjustments to the squad. To join an English team, my favourite English team, and to join the Premier League was something I couldn’t turn down.

“I was with the German national team during those last three days and I had to ask Joachim Low if I could go to London and have a quick medical. In my medical, I met [Andre] Santos, I became familiar with [Yossi] Benayoun, [Mikel] Arteta and Park [Chu-young] very quickly.

“It had to be messy, it had to be rushed. I didn’t care. I was just happy that Arsene Wenger called me and spoke to me in German. I couldn’t really believe it.

“It was so unreal those three days, as I said. To turn down an opportunity like Arsenal Football Club? I would always do it again, in the same format, in the same rush, in the same manner.”

Mertesacker took in 221 appearances for Arsenal, becoming a mainstay in their defensive unit, and says he was happy to face the questions that came his way on a regular basis – be that from inside or outside the club.

He added: “There needs to be that mentality in every single training session. I remember Aaron Ramsey was always a sounding board for me because we kept having a go at each other. Whenever we would do something wrong or not do the right thing at a certain time in training, we would feel the accountability.
“There were no hiding places really and that’s what it’s about with winning teams. You have the odd argument and as long as you’re authentic and you can back it up with your own behaviour, then there’s no problem.
“I never had a problem when someone called me out, sometimes it’s difficult to do that but once you step out of your bubble and get some perspective, I think that’s just healthy. It can be difficult, but the real leaders are the ones who always try to be authentic and honest, no matter what that means at the time.”