London (AFP) – Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has been named as the Premier League club’s new captain even though the injured German may not play again this year.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger defended the curious decision and said he will choose from a pool of experienced players to lead the side during Mertesacker’s prolonged absence.
“Per is a very respected figure in the dressing room, is loved as well and is also a very demanding figure,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“I think it is absolutely natural to be him. In his absence that’s where it will be taken by the assistants.
“One of them will be Laurent Koscielny, also Santi Cazorla – the experienced players – Petr Cech maybe.
“We will have a group of people that will take care of the energy levels and the problems of the team. That will be down a lot to the experienced players.”
Arsenal needed to appoint a new captain following Mikel Arteta’s departure in the close-season.
The Spaniard’s injury problems over the last two seasons have seen several players fill in as temporary captain.
Mertesacker, who joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen in 2011, captained the side on occasions last season before he was dropped as Wenger preferred to partner Gabriel with Koscielny at the heart of his defence.