By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Per Mertesacker has opened talks with Arsenal about a new contract, Goal can reveal.
The Germany international is in discussions with club chiefs about signing a deal that will tie him to Emirates Stadium beyond his current agreement, which expires in 2015.
Goal understands that Arsenal have indicated they will offer Mertesacker, who turned 29 last month, a new three-year contract starting from the end of the season.
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Manager Arsene Wenger has sanctioned an extension for the German following the growing success of his centre-back partnership with Laurent Koscielny.
Mertesacker joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen for £8 million on transfer deadline day in August 2011.
Following early teething problems in north London, the 6ft 6in German has leapfrogged above club captain Thomas Vermaelen in the defensive pecking order at the club.
Mertesacker was a key figure in Arsenal's excellent run-in last season, which culminated in a top-four finish, and he has maintained a consistent level of performance in the new campaign.
The defender has played every minute of 11 of the Gunners' 12 matches this season, missing only the trip to Sunderland through illness.
It is believed that Wenger had considered resting Mertesacker for the West Brom game last weekend because he was in the 'red zone', the point of fatigue where sportsmen are at major risk of injury.
Mertesacker is also a regular in the Germany squad. He started both of the national team's World Cup qualifiers - against Austria and Faroe Islands - last month.