Serge Gnabry has revealed that Per Mertesacker was a key influence on him during his time at Arsenal, describing him as a ‘friendly Arnold Schwarzenegger’.
The 24 year-old’s time at Arsenal was not as straight-forward as had hoped, and he eventually quit the club after a lack of first-team opportunities, and now finds himself a regular in the Bayern Munich set-up, but he has credited some of his rise to the help of the former Arsenal defender.
Per is now in charge of our youth setup, and is working hard to prepare the next generation to challenge for a role in Mikel Arteta’s first-team, and should his persistence in helping Gnabry as a youngster whilst he was still a player, he will no doubt be a great aid to our younger players.
Gbabry has claimed that Per was always tough on him in his younger days, whilst always trying to help him to better himself.
“He used to always be so hard on me, but in a really good way,” the 24-year-old claimed. “He was like an older brother for me at Arsenal, and no matter how well I played, or how hard I worked, he used to say…
“O.K., hang on! Because this part is not going to make sense unless you really know Per. You have to hear his voice. You have to see his face. Per is the nicest guy in the world. But he’s also the most German guy in the world.
“Like everything he says, it’s so intense. Like he’s so tall, and he’s looking down at you trying to be intimidating but it’s also kind of friendly. I don’t know if there’s an English word for it. Imagine like a really friendly Arnold Schwarzenegger or something. That’s Per.
“And no matter what I did in training, he would come up to me afterwards and start yelling, like: ‘Serge, remember where you come from! You are from Stuttgart! Humility, humility, humility! Serge, you think you’re good now, huh? You must be humble! Humility!’”
The German international then moved to claim it was a shock to be training alongside the likes of Ozil, who he adored.
“One day, you’re watching Mesut Ozil on TV with your mates, and he’s your idol. Then two years later, you’re having a coffee with him,” he said.
“You were watching him in awe, assisting Cristiano [Ronaldo] in El Clasico. And then he’s right in front of you, asking you how you’re doing. It’s surreal. It’s hard to not change, to be honest.
“It’s hard to remember who you are.”
Is there any doubt that Arteta and Mertesacker will be able to work well together to bring the youth through into the first-team over time?