Football: Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker to retire at end of season, will take up academy manager role

Arsenal's German defender Per Mertesacker holds the trophy as he celebrates on the pitch after their win over Chelsea in the English FA Cup final football match at Wembley stadium in London on May 27, 2017.
Arsenal's German defender Per Mertesacker holds the trophy as he celebrates on the pitch after their win over Chelsea in the English FA Cup final football match at Wembley stadium in London on May 27, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker will become the club's academy manager at the end of the 2017-18 season, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

The former German international centre-back, who joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen in 2011, will continue to be a part of Arsene Wenger's squad next season but will also develop his knowledge and understanding of the club's youth set-up.

"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family," Mertesacker said in a statement.

"This season, I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch.

"After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team."

In the interim, the academy will be led by Luke Hobbs, who took over the position after the departure of Andries Jonker to German Bundesliga side Vfl Wolfsburg earlier this year.

Arsenal, who finished fifth in the league last season, will host Leicester in the opening game of the season on Aug 11.