Arsene Wenger has brushed off recent criticism of Per Mertesacker‘s performances for Arsenal. The Daily Mirror reports Wenger believes Arsenal supporters will come to love the German defender once he settles into the English lifestyle and soccer.
“I am very happy with Per,” Wenger said. “The criticism in the papers has been very harsh, but when you play for a big team, you have to accept that.
“I also think it will take him some time. He came here not completely fit. Of course he is under pressure and scrutiny. But you don’t feel sorry for a situation like that because that’s what happens at a big club.”
The German international joined Arsenal nearly three months ago at the close of the summer transfer window. His £10 million ($15.9 million) move from German club Werder Bremen was part of an uncharacteristic spending spree that saw Wenger attempt to rebuild his struggling team.
The 27-year-old was considered the jewel among Wenger’s eight summer signings because of his age, price and experience. He is the first-choice center back for the resurgent German national team and made over 300 appearances in the Bundesliga (first division) before heading for North London.
Mertesacker has found adapting to English soccer difficult early on. He’s made a series of high-profile mistakes that have led to Arsenal conceding goals. Some have called on Wenger to bench him now that Thomas Vermaelen has returned to action, but the French tactician is standing by his new defensive linchpin.