Danny Welbeck has signed a new four-year contract at Manchester United, which ties him to his boyhood club until the end of the 2015/16 season.
Welbeck first linked up with the Reds as an eight-year-old, and was integrated into the youth system in 2005. Three years later he made his first team debut in a League Cup win over Middlesbrough, and he went on to feature in eight Premier League games before being loaned to Championship side Preston North End in January 2010.
It was the following season, 2010-11, in which the Longsight-born striker really came to prominence, when he spent the campaign on loan at Sunderland. This gave him regular first team football in the top-flight, and although a hamstring injury ruled him out for eight weeks, he still made 26 league appearances.
Welbeck then returned to Manchester determined to force his way into Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans, and this proved to be his breakthrough season at Old Trafford as he played in 30 Premier League matches, scorning nine times as United narrowly missed out on the title to rivals City on the final day.
As he entered the final year of his contract earlier this summer, there were question marks over his future at the club. These increased when Ferguson splashed out £20million on Robin van Persie, who scored 30 league goals for Arsenal last season and is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in Europe.
Yet it was Welbeck who was given the nod to start the opening game of the season at Everton, whilst the Dutchman warmed the bench for 70 minutes. And if that wasn’t a vote of confidence enough, Ferguson has now expressed his delight after the 21-year-old signed a new four-year contract with the club.
“Danny has been with the club since he was eight years old and has made fantastic progress in the last couple of years,” he told the official club website. “He has become an important player at international level as well, as the maturity of his performances at the European Championship showed. This year is another important one for him. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
As commented upon by the United boss, Welbeck has indeed become a key part of Roy Hodgson’s England plans for the future. He now has nine caps for his country, with his proudest moment being an audacious back-heeled goal in the 3-2 win over Sweden in Euro 2012. But after penning his new deal, the youngster revealed that at the moment, having success for his club is his main priority.
“Playing for United is all I’ve ever wanted to do – it’s the club I’ve supported all my life,” said Welbeck. “I can’t wait to play my part in helping the team compete for trophies. I’m learning all the time from the best manager in the game and I’m keen for that to continue alongside the world-class players in the squad.”
With the amount of world-class players which flood into the Premier League every year – many of whom are welcomed – it can seem a daunting task for homegrown players to make their mark, especially at the bigger clubs in the country. Yet Welbeck’s rise should offer encouragement to youngsters everywhere.