Arsenal confirm Mertesacker contract talks

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the club have engaged in talks with Per Mertesacker and his representatives regarding the extension of his current contract.

The Germany international was an acquisition from Werder Bremen in the summer transfer window of 2011 and, after something of an inconsistent start, has established himself of the club's most reliable performers.

Mertesacker has been in particularly fine form this season, playing a prominent role in moving Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table, and Wenger says the centre-back is set to be rewarded with a new deal.

"We are in the process of extending Mertesacker’s contract," Wenger told a press conference on Friday.

"He has one-and-a-half years left - there is plenty of time."

Mertesacker's absence was keenly felt in Arsenal's most recent league outing, during which Manchester United condemned the leaders to their first defeat since the season's opening day.

The 29-year-old was unavailable due to a virus, but returned to action with Germany this week and scored the winning goal for his country against England at Wembley on Tuesday.

Mertesacker is expected to return to the Arsenal starting XI for the weekend encounter with Southampton at the Emirates Stadium, with Thomas Vermaelen set to drop to the bench.

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