Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has said he is “very happy and very privileged” after being asked to take over as the club’s academy director next year.
Mertesacker, who will retire from football after the 2017-18 season, fills the role vacated by previous director Andries Jonker.
The former Germany international said he had a lot to learn before taking up the job, but insisted his main focus would be on performing as well as possible in his final year as a player.
Discussing his new appointment at a news conference after arriving in Sydney for Arsenal’s preseason tour, Mertesacker told reporters: “It shows that the club believes in me, not only as a player.
“There are a lot of young players coming up and that’s why I’m very happy and very privileged to take over from next season.
“I realised I had to stop [playing] after a very good and long career, and now I’m in the preseason preparing for my last season. Then we can speak about next season.
“Then I have a new role without any background from being part of that side of the club. I’m very excited, obviously about this season to finish my career well, and then starting off an absolutely new role.”
Mertesacker has been widely tipped for a career in management, with many seeing the academy role as a stepping stone to a future head coach job.
But he said: “I enjoy being vocal to young players during training, but I’ve never seen myself as a coach. I think to gain experience in that will be key as well, for my next chapter.
“But once Arsenal had the idea to implement me in the club, I slowly started to realise and think about what my purpose would be after playing.
“When Arsenal came to me with the idea, I was up for it. I am looking forward absolutely to this new role, to staying in football — those were the kind of things that convinced me, plus my family are happy in England, in London as well.
“What comes with that role, we will define that in this next year. Playing is the major part, but then we decide what experience I have to gain to set up myself into that role — if that is more on the coaching side, or the managing side, that is down to the season ahead.”