Ever since making his international debut for Germany as a raw 20-year-old against Iran in 2004, Mertesacker has been tipped for the top. He is instantly recognisable as he stands at 6' 6'' and uses his height and physique to good effect and was snapped up by Arsenal for around £8 million on deadline day in August 2011.
After coming through the ranks at hometown club Hannover and quickly building a reputation as one of the Bundesliga's more accomplished defenders, Mertesacker's performances at the 2006 World Cup, in partnership with Christoph Metzelder, saw him earn a move to Werder Bremen. After moving to the Hanseatic city he won the German Cup in 2009 and finished as a runner-up in the UEFA Cup in the same year, as well as gaining valuable Champions League experience.
Mertesacker made seven appearances during qualifying for the 2010 finals and Germany conceded just one goal while he was on the pitch. With an ever-growing reputation, Mertesacker was linked with Arsenal and he had said in the past that "you cannot help but enjoy the style with which they play the game.'' After eventually succumbing to the Gunners' advances in August 2011 he signed for around £8 million.
Strengths: At 6' 6'', Mertesacker is an obvious asset in the air and plays a vital role in swatting away set-pieces. As well as being a commanding influence thanks to his big frame, Mertesacker is also a very clean player and went 31 games without a booking following his Bundesliga debut.
Weaknesses: Mertesacker sometimes needs a more vocal influence alongside him in defence and can be a bit static at times.
Career high: Securing his first major trophy when Bremen won the 2009 DFB Pokal, even if Mertesacker did miss the final victory over Bayer Leverkusen due to injury.
Career low: Suffering an extra-time defeat to Italy in the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup and then missing the third-place play-off victory over Portugal due to injury.
Style: Imposing, reliable, dominant, an accomplished centre-back.
Quotes: "Per was convincing at the World Cup and anyone who plays such a strong tournament at such a young age can strengthen us. He has enormous potential." Thomas Schaaf, August 2006.
Trivia: In 2006, the defender established the 'Per-Mertesacker-Stiftung' - a charitable foundation that helps support amateur sportsmen and the poor.