'Emotional connection' lands Arsenal £9m defender

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Per Mertesacker says he had no hesitation about joining Arsenal from Werder Bremen, having had an emotional attachment to the north London side since his youth.

The German defender was confirmed as a Gunner on transfer deadline day, moving to the Emirates Stadium in a deal reported to be worth £9 million.

And, says the 26-year-old, he has followed Arsenal since he was a child, and resisted the temptation to support Manchester United.

"There is this emotional connection to Arsenal, since my youth, when I walked around in an Arsenal shirt," he told reporters.

"The circle closes now. I think I will finally realise it, after the first training or when I walk out for the first time into the stadium.

"I’m very happy that the request came. I didn’t think it would.

"When I was young I visited my aunt in England. As a football maniac you always brought back a shirt of course and I took the Arsenal kit. My brother took one of Manchester United.


"Since then I’ve always watched the Premier League and especially Arsenal. My connection to the club grew over the last 10 years."

Mertesacker also says he never thought he would be able to realise his ambition to play for the Gunners, and is still pinching himself to make sure that a dream has become reality.

"I didn’t think I’d play there someday, but I had this wish inside me. Back then I wouldn’t believe that I would be a Gunner now," he added.

“That this story becomes reality is fascination enough."

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