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Arsenal defender pleased to “earn respect” and silence transfer rumours

07:30 17 May 2013

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Arsenal’s Per Mertesackers is delighted to have become a key player for the Gunners and insists he has no plans to leave the club in the near future.

The German centre-back has endured plenty of criticism since arriving from Werder Bremen in August 2011, with some suggestions he would be sold in the summer.

However, Mertesacker has been in impressive form alongside Laurent Koscielny in the heart of defence and now feels very much a key man.

“I do not think they want to get rid of me after this season here,” Mertesacker said in an interview with German media website www.Sport1.de.

“I have become an integral part of the team and have really earned respect here.

“Sometimes you have to be self-confident enough and just let the press write what they want, but it is always getting quieter in this regard, and that is a good sign.”

Should Arsenal win by a two-goal margin and Europa League winners Chelsea draw or even lose at home to Everton, then Wenger’s men could yet end the season in third place - or indeed face a play-off with the Blues if all of their statistics are tied come the final whistle.

Mertesacker maintains Arsenal must just focus on delivering the required result following an unbeaten nine-game league run.

“We must really put a shift in against Newcastle and really give everything again in our last game,” he said.

“It was a long, gruelling season, but we will do everything possible to win there.”

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