Arsenal has recently enjoyed an infusion of players from their youth team and has academy manager Per Mertesacker to thank for it. The German World Cup winner assumed the role after retiring in 2018. First-team regulars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe both made the step up from the youth team along with fringe players such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah. Mikel Arteta has put a lot of trust in these youngsters with both Saka and Smith Rowe starring for the Gunners in their 3-1 thrashing of Tottenham in the North London Derby.
“We came up with four pillars that we wanted to progress with,” Arsenal academy manager Per Mertesacker said. “For the football pillar, it’s about what makes an effective team player. It’s about how we measure players by what they do on the pitch but also how we measure them in times of life-long learning. That’s also a pillar – you have to put education first and have a hunger for personal development, while also making sure that you are a student of the game.”
“The third pillar is about the physical things, specifically making sure you’re as efficient a mover as you can be. It’s about getting your football actions right and maximizing what you do on the pitch in terms of the movements a football player needs to have,” he added. “The fourth pillar is really about mindset – we call it champion mentality. Not everyone will necessarily lift a trophy, but it’s about your mentality and dedication every single day, every month, every year to your development and making yourself the best person you can be. That’s the champion mentality.”