Unai Emery should appoint Aaron Ramsey as his new captain, Arsenal’s former striker Kevin Campbell has claimed.
Per Mertesacker, who had been assigned to the role by Arsene Wenger, brought the curtain down on his career at the end of last season.
Long-serving midfielder Jack Wilshere is among the contenders to take the armband from Mertesacker, while experienced goalkeeper Petr Cech could be another option for new boss Emery.
But Campbell, who netted 46 times in 166 appearances for the Gunners, believes Welshman Ramsey could be Emery’s best option to lead the club forward.
Ramsey, 27, joined Arsenal from Cardiff in 2008, but is out of contract at the end of next season.
“Aaron Ramsey ticks quite a lot of boxes,” Campbell, 48, said. “He is one of the long-serving players in the first team.
“If there is a structure, Aaron Ramsey could be that guy.”
Arsenal have failed to win the Premier League since 2004 and finished a distant sixth in the final season of Wenger’s 22-year reign.
Wenger took over the club with Tony Adams as captain before Patrick Vieira and latterly Thierry Henry were handed the armband.
But the north London side have been criticised for lacking leaders in recent times.
Campbell, who was speaking to ESPN, has, however, backed Spaniard Emery to resolve Arsenal’s leadership issues without having to dip into the transfer market.
“For the last four or five years, Arsenal went soft, and it’s showed in the league standings,” he added.
“You can look at leadership in two different ways. Everyone talks about the leaders like Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, but those players are not easily available.
“The second way you can get leadership is through organisation. When different parts of the team are functioning properly, players within that system will be the leader, and I believe that’s the way Unai Emery is going to do it.
“They will be well drilled, there will be certain triggers, and in order to have a trigger you’re going to have to be able to communicate, and that’s where certain players are going to have to take that leadership role on.”