Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has finally shed some light on his much-discussed 'enforcer' role in the Gunners dressing room, one that sees him act as debt collector for breaches in conduct by the first-team squad.
Mertesacker has revealed he was asked to take on the horrible task by former captain Thomas Vermaelen and current skipper Mikel Arteta, a position of trust that he takes very seriously.
The World Cup winner has revealed he's even been forced to fine himself as part of the job, but has learned from his position as chief penny-pincher that Arsenal have a strong team spirit that sees players hold themselves accountable for failing to toe the line.
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Big Per does job nobody wanted
In an exclusive chat with Arsenal's SoundCloud account Mertesacker talked about the job of forcing his friends and colleagues to pay up, sharing: "I was picked out by Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta at the time, the captain and vice captain. They told me to do that and I said OK.
"I mean its obviously a hard job, no one wants do it really because you have to be a role model first. You can never be late, always aware of the situation. So they choose me and I say alright, I'm going to do it. It's up to me to collect them [fines] and be that role model I always wanted to be."
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Mertesacker forced to fine himself
"That was the start and I just continue because no one wants to do it. Maybe one day I pick someone but at the moment its quite nice to support Mikel. He's our leader, our main leader, he mostly decides who has done right or wrong, so its a good support to give him."
The £80,000-a-week Gunners star was also asked if he's fallen foul of his own rules and been forced to fine himself since taking on the job last season.
Have you had to pay any fines yourself? Yes I did, because I want to be honest. Honest is the best way. You have to admit if you've done something wrong. I'm honest so I charge myself as well. I've no idea exactly [why], maybe I was late once in my lifetime. Usually I'm always on time or earlier, but sometimes there is traffic in London that could be bad, if so you have to pay the price.
There is a great honesty in this group. When there's something wrong they would admit: 'that's my fault'. That's my feeling at the moment, maybe they're talking behind me a lot but at the moment I'm quite confident that everyone has got that honesty to contribute.
Arsenal need new leaders coming through
When you read quotes like this from Meretesacker showing leadership skills its easy to see why Gunners boss Arsene Wenger trusts him and Arteta to be key figures in the squad, even if it draws criticism from some fans.
With Mertesacker and Arteta turning 31 and 33 respectively this year its clear Arsenal need to find new leaders capable of providing experience and authority in the dressing room, with a view to the long-tem.
For now Mertesacker clearly has an important role to play at the Emirates though, even if his starting spot is very much under threat thanks to £11.3m January signing Gabriel Paulista.
Arsenal fans, do you respect Mertesacker's leadership skills and importance to Wenger, or do you think the Gunners can find better in the transfer market this summer? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below.
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