Has anyone benefitted from Welbeck’s transfer from Old Trafford to the Emirates?
Before you continue to read this article I make it unequivocally clear that I am a huge fan of Danny Welbeck both as a player and personality. But was moving to the Gunners the right choice for the player, for the club he moved to (Arsenal) and the club he moved from (Man Utd)?
Cast our minds back to just under 12months ago when Arsenal managed to prise Welbeck away from Man Utd on transfer deadline day for a fee of around £16million. This was deemed by many a very smart and sensible signing for Arsenal and many onlookers especially Manchester United fans were questioning why the promising academy graduate was allowed to leave for such a low fee considering the inflated prices attached to top level English talent. Furthermore if thing didn’t work out as expected because the player is a current English international he would retain much of his value for resale which reinstates the fine financial investment made by Arsenal.
To put the transfer more into context, at that current time Oliver Giroud was out for a considerable amount of time due to a fracture leg, Yaya Sanogo was not able build upon his impressive form in pre-season and Alexis Sanchez did not convince when deployed in a central striking position. So when Welbeck became available on the market Arsene did not hesitate to bring him to the Emirates on the last day of the transfer window. Despite the lateness of the signing it did not seem as the usual final day emergency signing due to the players young age, technical ability and international experience. However ever so faint alarm bells started ringing in the football community and questions over the nature of the signing started to arise a few short days after the deal had been completed that Wenger initially wanted to sign Welbeck on loan with the option to buy. Whether Arsene had a preference to sign Welbeck on loan or permanently either way Arsenal acted with haste to bring him to the club.
Nevertheless this transfer looked like potentially being a match made in heaven, with Welbeck’s technical ability and tactical knowhow accompanied with his physical attributes he had everything needed to be a top quality centre forward to replace the injured Giroud. He started off his Arsenal career with impressive performances against Man City before scoring his first goal against Aston Villa. Then his subsequent hat trick in the Champions League against Galatasaray drew increasing comparisons with club legend Thierry Henry. However, the goals started to dry up for Welbeck which happened so often during his time at Old Trafford hence the reasoning why Louis Van Gaal opted to sell him in the first place, because of his modest goalscoring record for the club. 4 goals in 25 games Premier League will not make pleasant reading for the forward and his self sacrificing team orientated style of play both helped and worked against him as when Giroud became available again Welbeck was thrusted to the wing in order to accommodate the striker. Welbeck was now considered a good squad player a player who will be very useful and effective for his team but not the star striker many felt he had the promise to be including club legend Ian Wright.
Now it seems as though Danny Welbeck is in a crossroads of his career. He has seemingly become a forgotten man at the Emirates with Walcott and not Welbeck seen as the main competitor to Giroud’s place as leading striker and they have been continued rumours in many news outlets about Arsenal’s interests in Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema which could see Welbeck’s importance deteriorate further. Moreover many ex players are calling for Arsenal to take out the cheque book in order to sign the French international which must have adverse affects on Welbeck’s confidence in his role at the club. Despite this Welbeck has the ability to overturn his current position at Arsenal and become the all round striker that many believe and hope he can become.
Despite his current predicament at the Gunners did Man Utd make a mistake in selling him? Currently Van Gaal’s decision to let Welbeck go looks to be justified; Van Gaal criticised his goalscoring record at United after his exit and he compared his exploits to players at the club like Rooney and Van Persie but quite simply there isn’t any. The arrival of Falcao on deadline day meant there was no longer a place for Welbeck at Louis Van Gaal’s United. Van Gaal then went on to say that if he stayed he would have been 5th choice striker behind youngster James Wilson in the striking hierarchy. In spite of their reputations the United strikers suffered throughout the season, new arrival Falcao continued to struggle from fitness problems and was a far cry from the forward that lit up the world at Atletico Madrid. For the majority of the season Van Gaal opted to select Rooney in midfield to fill a clearly visible hole and Van Persie in spite of his performances under Van Gaal at the World Cup looked off the pace at times and James Wilson did not set the world alight when given the opportunity in the first team. With the United strikers off form, injured and looking leggy in their movement this would have been ideal for Van Gaal to have Danny Welbeck at his disposal, a player who can cause defenders problems with his pace, strength and intelligent movement alone and would have been a better solution at times than any of their strikers, except for perhaps Rooney.
This summer Old Trafford saw Van Persie leave to join Turkish club Fenerbahce and deciding not to uphold the option to buy Falcao letting the forward go to back to Monaco. This leaves United with only Rooney, the returning Javier Hernandez and James Wilson as the club’s central striking options. Which leads to the question; would both clubs have benefitted more from a loan move for Welbeck? Arsenal would perhaps be more assertive in their pursuit of Karim Benzema and Man Utd would have an talented academy graduate who would add much needed energy to the forward line. Maybe it is just the Man Utd fan in me that wanted to see Welbeck fulfill his undoubted potential at Old Trafford and hypothetically talking about a loan move derives a disappointment that still remains the he got opportunity to showcase his talent at the Emirates. But can he overcome his unfavourable situation currently to become the striker that he has always had the potential to be?