Surplus to requirements at Manchester United, yesterday Danny Welbeck completed a £16 million move to Arsenal. The switch to North London came as a surprise to many, but it offers the England international a chance to prove himself as a top Premier League forward.
Despite being much-maligned by many due to his questionable goalscoring record at United, the managers that he’s previously played under all have faith in the striker’s ability.
Doubts over goalscoring ability
In 2013 Sir Alex Ferguson defended his then forward when doubts were raised about his inability to score on a regular basis.
"Maybe he doesn’t appreciate us moving him around in various positions and we’ve maybe overused that because he is young. But his value to the club is there because I know he can do a job for me in any of those positions.
"It’s a fantastic asset when you have a player who is as adaptable as that. But I think he will find his role through the middle once he gets that maturity and gets into a more consistent way of scoring."
Move has come at the right time
A year or so on from these comments and with another Premier League season and World Cup campaign under his belt, this move and the chance to play as an out and out centre-forward comes at the right time for Welbeck to kick on and fulfil his potential. It’s an opportunity that Welbeck hasn’t been afforded as yet in his career.
He performed notably in a loan spell at Sunderland during the 2010-11 season, but was mainly deployed out wide or just in behind frontman Asamoah Gyan. At United both Ferguson and Moyes utilised his pace as an effective foil for frontmen Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, positioning him out wide on numerous occasions.
He has been used in a similar way for England, with a record of 8 goals in 26 appearances suggesting he does possess real quality.
Comparisons with Thierry Henry
Interestingly certain comparisons can be drawn with an Arsenal legend, none other than Thierry Henry. Prior to joining the Gunners, Arsene Wenger had initially used the young Henry as a winger at Monaco, feeling that similarly to Welbeck his pace would be a real asset.
Superb performances for Monaco in the Champions League and at the 1998 World Cup (In which he was a winner with France), resulted in a big money move to Italian giants Juventus.
In Italy Henry cut a forlorn figure, struggling in his role as a winger as his career momentarily hit the buffers.
Re-enter Arsene Wenger into the 22-year-old's life, who took him to Arsenal for a much debated £11 million. Wenger converted Henry into a striker and they rest, as they say, is history.
The move to Arsenal was a poignant moment in Henry’s career, revitalising the Frenchman who more than fulfilled his potential, Welbeck will be hoping Wenger can do the same for him.
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