Per Mertesacker is determined to ignore the overtures of Werder Bremen and other Bundesliga outfits to extend his stay with Arsenal.
The German defender is out for the first half of the campaign with a knee injury, but was installed as the club captain in the summer and has been a fine servant to the north London club since moving from his homeland in 2011.
If he has his way, he’ll be staying in the English capital for longer.
“A new Arsenal contract has absolute priority for me. But no dates have been set (for talks),” Mertesacker told Spox, with translation from ESPN FC’s Mattias Karen.
“Arsenal has the highest priority for me. Everything else is pure speculation, and I won’t join the discussion.”
The pairing of new signing Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny forms manager Arsene Wenger’s strongest defensive foundation for some time, and some promising showings from Rob Holding at centre-half appear to pose a significant hurdle for Mertesacker when he’s fit. He’d also be vying for first-team consideration with the sometimes erratic Gabriel Paulista.
Despite his dwindling physical capabilities and matchday squad chances, however, Mertesacker is undeterred from trying to lengthen his association with the Gunners.
The 32-year-old could be fit early in the new year, according to the latest estimates, and with Arsenal currently tied atop the Premier League with Manchester City and Liverpool on 23 points, Mertesacker may be plunged straight into a title race.
“The team has matured a bit. We played a few convincing matches, but there were also some hard-fought last-minute wins,” the 104-time international explained. “The competitiveness at the top of the league is certainly unique in Europe. And it’s unmistakable the fans want the title, but it might be harder to win it in England than elsewhere.”
Arsenal travels to Bulgaria’s Ludogorets in Tuesday’s Champions League group stage tilts before hosting archrival Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.