Arsenal captain and German defender Per Mertesacker is to retire at the end of the coming season and take over as academy manager immediately.
The 32-year-old World Cup winner is the club captain and will continue to be part of the first-team squad this season “while developing his knowledge and understanding of the Academy”, the Gunners said in a statement on their website.
Luke Hobbs is set to continue to lead the Arsenal Academy through the 2017/18 campaign.
Mertesacker, who joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen in August 2011, is excited about his new role.
“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family,” Mertesacker said.
“This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who penned a new two-year contract extension after guiding the team to FA Cup success over Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley, believes Mertesacker is well suited to taking his first steps of a coaching career.
“Per is an exceptional character who is a great example for young players. He is a deep thinker about the game and committed to helping players fulfil their potential,” Wenger said.
“He will be an inspirational figure for everyone connected with the academy.”