As hard as it must have been for Danny Welbeck to leave Manchester United, he may now get the chance to prove his undoubted quality.
The fact that the Longsight-born forward had somewhat lost his way at Old Trafford is unlikely to have made his decision to leave an easy one. Having first being spotted by his boyhood club when he was just six-year-old, he eventually linked up with their youth academy in 2001 and made his first team debut in the League Cup in 2008.
Altogether, Welbeck made 142 appearances in all competitions for United, and chipped in with 29 goals. The fact many of these outings came in a support attacking role, as opposed to his favoured central position, would lead to the frustration which ultimately led to his departure. It should be noted, though, that he has scored goals in games of high importance against key opposition: aside from Liverpool, he has at some point scored against all the teams which finished in the top-six last season, and he was on target in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League campaign of 2012/13.
He has also proved he can perform at the international level. Having made his debut in March 2011 he has now earned 26 caps, scoring eight goals which is a better record than, for example, Ian Wright. He scored an audacious back-heeled goal against Sweden in Euro 2012, and also registered four goals as England qualified for the World Cup Finals, in which he was deemed important enough to start in the opening games against Italy and Uruguay before, like many, being omitted from the dead rubber against Costa Rica.
Starting the season third choice, at best, behind Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie at Old Trafford, the deadline-day arrival of Radamel Falcao was further proof that Welbeck’s first team chances were in decline. This is something he initially concluded during the miserable reign of David Moyes, which led to him considering his future last season, and at this stage of his career – he turns 24 next month – he needs regular first team football.
But more than this, he needs to be given a central role so he can prove once and for all that he belongs to be considered as a striker rather than a wideman. How he must look at Daniel Sturridge with envy. The Liverpool ace was often played out wide by Chelsea to little effect, yet his move to Anfield has seen him scored 32 goals in just 46 Premier League appearances as he cements his place as one of the most prolific goalscorers in the country.
Welbeck will feel his move to the Emirates Stadium will provide him with a similar opportunity. He will need to make the most of Olivier Giroud’s injury absence, of course, but there is no reason why he can’t do just that, particularly as he feeds of the service of the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. Indeed, the France international might have a fight on his hands getting back into the side.
The £16million man, who will also provide pace, power and sheer determination to the Gunners ranks, also joins the growing list of real quality British players who are forming the backbone of Wenger’s plans. Welbeck will join the aforementioned Ramsey, as well as English talent in Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chambers, Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers.
Arsenal fans may be frustrated that Wenger’s summer business still looks short: where is the central defender he wanted in the wake of Thomas Vermaelen’s move to Barcelona, for instance, or that elusive central midfielder? But for those questioning the ability of Welbeck, they should be assured that they are in for a pleasant surprise.
Arsenal fans, what do you think of the Welbeck signing? Do you think he is good enough to be your main striker? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion below!