By Will Butcher

Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker said they were lucky to finish second in the Premier League last year, claiming it to be a ‘kind of a miracle’.

The German defender believed the Gunners were lucky to finish as runners-up to champions Leicester City, but is adamant that the North London side will fare better this time round.

Speaking to The Sun, Mertesacker also warned manager Arsene Wenger that the team must not be left behind in the transfer market as their Premier League rivals announce more signings.

“The way last season went, we were quite lucky to finish second,” the 31-year-old said. “We turned things around at the end but it was kind of a miracle we finished runners-up.

“What really disappointed us was that Leicester were able to take advantage of all the other big teams suffering and we couldn’t do the same.”

The former Werder Bremen centre-back has watched Arsenal’s Premier League rivals bring in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ilkay Gundogan and Michy Batshuayi.

Despite the signing of Granit Xhaka from Gladbach, Mertesacker lamented the spending of his rivals.

“Of course, those big clubs will be stronger this time,” he said. “That’s what I expect as they’ll start the season with a lot of new players.

“A lot of transfer business has already been done and it won’t be easy for us this time, especially with all the signings going to the other clubs.”

Wenger is still yet to pick a club captain after the departure of Mikel Arteta, but Mertesacker is the favourite after wearing the armband last season when Arteta was out injured.

Wenger has also brought in defender Rob Holding from Bolton and Japanese sensation Takuma Asano, but these two aren’t expected to play a major first-team role in the next campaign.

In other Arsenal news, Stan Collymore has had this to say on Wenger’s summer plans.