Mertesacker will regain love for football, says sympathetic Wenger

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The Frenchman has hailed the Germany international defender for his honesty after a candid interview with Der Spiegel

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expects the retiring Per Mertesacker to rediscover his passion for playing soon after he hangs up the boots.

World Cup winner Mertesacker recently revealed a desire to avoid being called upon during the final months of a career plagued by injuries.

In a candid interview with Der Spiegel, the 33-year-old detailed his battles with anxiety and said he was eager to be "free" from the mental and physical demands of professional football.

Wenger sympathised with Mertesacker's honest admission, although he believes the former Germany international will move past his frustration.

"I think that will go very quickly. Once you stop for a few months you are ready to play again," Wenger told reporters on Wednesday.

"He has had a very long career. He never plays one minute without being totally focussed. That demands a huge amount of effort and that is why he has had the career he has.

"To be a professional football player is to face a huge level of expectation. First of all from yourself, because these players are very demanding of themselves and that creates stress.

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"To play at the level they play today you need to have a huge resistance to stress.

"To express what you want to do you need your body to be at your service. You never know how your body will respond, how you will feel, how much your reflexes in a game will be there. It is always an uncertainty and that creates stress."

Mertesacker, who will take over as the Gunners' academy manager at the end of the campaign, has not featured since Arsenal's FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest in January.

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