Manchester United favourite and former assistant manager Rene Meulensteen has made a move to come out all guns blazing against Louis van Gaal’s decision to sell Danny Welbeck to Arsenal for £16 million, as he feels it was the wrong choice.
The Dutch coach, who worked with Sir Alex Ferguson between 2007 and 2013, told talkSPORT that he believed Welbeck was going to prove United wrong in north London, and aimed what some may perceive to be a dig at Van Gaal by championing the stance on youth that Ferguson took whilst in charge.
The wrong decision?
“I had him from when he was 8, 9 years of age and I think the best of Danny is yet to come,” Meulensteen said.
“He is a very versatile player and I’m 100 percent sure he will do very, very well for Arsenal.
“Danny is a perfect match for Arsenal. He is such a versatile player.”
The late deal which saw Welbeck move to the Emirates Stadium on deadline day was met with dismay by fans on both sides of the agreement. United supporters voiced concerns over Van Gaal’s decision to readily sell to a potential title rival, whilst followers of Arsenal weren’t happy with Arsene Wenger paying such a steep price for a striker who hasn’t been overly prolific.
Nevertheless the transfer provides Welbeck with an opportunity to prove that he is capable of fulfilling the obvious potential he has always harboured, and his pace and skill should be finely complemented by the astute playmaking abilities of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.
Not the Sir Alex way
If he does turn out to be a hit with the Gunners then questions will certainly be asked of Van Gaal, who preferred to bring in star names such as Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria than continue with the club’s usual emphasis on promoting the talents of home-grown players. As far as Meulensteen is concerned, the decision to do so is not one that Sir Alex would have endorsed.
When asked whether Ferguson would have been ready to broker such a deal with Arsenal, Meulensteen replied: “No, definitely not.
“You look back through the history of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and we were always keen on bringing young players through and giving them a chance.
“People keep saying about Danny Welbeck not scoring enough goals but you have to look at the people with him and in front of him and how many games has he really played in his preferred position?”
It’s true that Welbeck was never really given the chance to succeed in an out and out forward role at Old Trafford - mainly due to the dominance of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in the position - but even so his figures when it comes to scoring goals aren’t all that impressive.
20 Premier League goals in 92 appearances for the Red Devils is a record the England international would have been aiming to improve his season, and the regular game-time he’ll be afforded by Wenger should allow him to do so.
Welbeck’s form for the national team is better, with his two goals during England’s qualifier against Switzerland on Monday taking his tally to 10 in 28 caps. Yet there remains question marks over his ability to consistently find the back of the net.
Will he flourish in the red of Arsenal? Or will Van Gaal ultimately be applauded for selling him when he had the chance?