Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has said he would be happy to never play for the Gunners again because of physical and mental burdens he has experienced as of late.
The German international looks set to retire at the end of the current campaign after an incredibly successful career – which included World Cup victory in 2014.
Speaking to Spiegel in his native country, the 33-year-old admitted he would rather not take to the pitch again before he hangs up his boots in May:
“Everyone says I should enjoy the last year, to play as much as possible and take everything in, [but] I would rather sit on the bench or even better in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free.”
“Some days you realise everything is a burden, both physically and mentally but you have to deliver without a doubt.
“The pressure is very intense. I always have this horror story in my head, to make a mistake and be responsible for a conceded goal. If the fans celebrate it is great, it is unbelievable. But if they are booing you, I always feel very ashamed.” – Spiegal, via Sky Sports.
While many professional footballers will certainly resonate with the feelings discussed by the defender, Arsenal’s form as of late surely will not have helped lift the mood hanging over him at present – as the Gunners sit in sixth in the Premier League table, with little hope of challenging for a UEFA Champions League place.
Arsene Wenger’s side have suffered eight defeats since the turn of the calendar year – one of which being seemingly the last time Mertesacker will have taken to a football field, as he scored in their FA Cup loss away to Championship outfit Nottingham Forest.
Though Mertesacker has played more of a bit-part role in recent seasons due to the wealth of defenders at the Emirates, his words will do little to ease the sense of gloom which hangs around Arsenal at present.
Although he will reportedly take over as academy manager at Arsenal for the 2018/19 campaign – his analogy of the current crisis is quite bleak – on both a personal and club level.
He does not want to play for the club again because of the burden that it brings.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena