Per Mertesacker’s Time at Arsenal Not as Close to Ending as You’d Think


When Arsene Wenger signed Gabriel Paulista in January as defensive cover for his thinly staffed defensive line, few would have thought he’d already be the one that could hasten the exit of the step-in captain Per Mertesacker. But that seems to be what the consensus is.

The fact of the matter is, the big German just isn’t having a good year. But going on 31-years of age, you sadly aren’t allowed to have any down years because you’re going to be replaced, even in a system that’s as loyal to their players as Arsenal.

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The Telegraph tends to think that Mertesacker is winding down, at least his time at Arsenal is. With Paulista and Calum Chambers eying up stepping into the starting XI as future stars at Arsenal, Mertesacker is just going to have to make way. While that doesn’t mean he’d be sold, and I doubt he would given his experience and worth to the club, it does mean that there is going to be a changing of the guard.

But then there are the rumors that Wenger is looking to add more defensive help, which, while it’s a welcome sign that Wenger is addressing his needs, maybe even before they happen, it also reinforces the demise of Mertesacker.

The Daily Mail lists at least two central defenders that are in talks with Arsenal, and the one that seems to be catching on, seemingly out of nowhere, is for Borussia Dortmund center back Nevan Subotic.

After the Mats Hummels deal never even considered happening, Subotic would appear to be the next best thing, as he’s the partner of Hummels. Subotic has one year left on his contract, and it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see him extend his term, given that a handful of other Dortmund faithful are choosing loyalty to the club over this season’s results. But for the time being, the 26-year old is being linked to inherit the Mertesacker gap.

If you compare Per Mertesacker to the other defenders on the team, it doesn’t look good. Statistically, he’s the worst defender we have. Take a look at his stats next to four of our other defenders (stats are per 90 minutes played, via Squawka)

[table id=23 /]

According to those handful of stats, sure, Mertesacker has fallen off. But the areas that Mertesacker still controls (not pictured above) are take-on percentage and aerial duels. But still, that in and of itself is worth something, and that’s why I don’t see him being sold. He’s still a good defender and Arsene Wenger knows that.

However, his partnership with Koscienly just isn’t what it used to be, and after seeing how well Koscienly and Gabriel teamed up, there may not be any imminent need to give the old duo another spin.

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I like Mertesacker. Everyone should. He’s a good, down to earth guy with a ton of experience, a World Cup trophy, a healthy career under his belt and he’s dedicated to Arsenal. I don’t think it would be that hard to convince him to stay around and serve as a mentor.

And who knows, Mertesacker has had some really good games this year, maybe the extra competition will iron out into some good consistent results for him and he’ll be able to reestablish himself. Gabriel only as three appearances under his belt and while they were pretty stellar, it’s a small sample size. It’s not like we need to offload Mertesacker this instant or anything.

Like I said, I don’t think he’ll be sold this summer. He’s too valuable to this club and it’s not the way Arsene Wenger works. But he may be stepping aside for next year’s season.

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