The England forward would have found himself behind loan-signing Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and even 18-year-old starlet James Wilson after the international break had he agreed to stay with the Red Devils, according to the Times.
Instead, Welbeck secured a £16 million deadline-day transfer to Arsenal, ending his 15-year association with his boyhood club.
Welbeck got his wish to leave United
The 23-year-old, who has expressed his delight after joining the Gunners in an interview with the club’s official website, had already made up his mind to leave Old Trafford earlier this year after failing to establish himself as the Red Devils’ first-choice centre-forward.
Welbeck was often deployed out of position - on the left wing - by Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, but flourished on the rare occasions he was played upfront.
He made an impression in pre-season - Van Persie was not part of the club’s tour of the United States - but Van Gaal made it clear to Welbeck in a face-to-face meeting at Carrington last month that he was unable to grant his wish to play upfront on a regular basis.
Manchester United pecking order
Falcao is expected to become United’s new first-choice centre-forward after the international break. The prolific Colombia international has joined the Red Devils on a season-long loan deal and will reportedly earn a staggering £350,000-a-week.
Rooney is another definite starter, having received the captain’s armband from Van Gaal. However, it’s currently unclear whether the England skipper will play upfront with Falcao, in Juan Mata’s No. 10 position, or even in central midfield.
Van Persie is a favourite of Van Gaal and should also see plenty of action, although it will be fascinating to see how the veteran Dutch coach accommodates both Falcao and the Netherlands international in the same starting line-up.
Wilson rather higher than Welbeck by Van Gaal
And Wilson, who rose to prominence in after scoring two goals on his Manchester United debut at the end of last season, could feature in the early rounds of the FA Cup.
Wilson is highly rated at Old Trafford - and it’s not difficult to see why after watching last month’s Manchester Senior Cup final against local rivals Manchester City.
The Staffordshire-born striker scored all four goals in a 4-1 demolition, leading to comparisons with Van Persie himself.
Van Gaal is clearly impressed with what he’s seen from the teenager and it appears that he regarded him as an even better striker than Welbeck.
Welbeck, though, will be out to prove his doubters wrong over the next few months. The striker will be Arsenal’s first-choice centre-forward at least until January, when Olivier Giroud returns from injury.