Reading have reportedly sounded out Manchester United over a possible loan move for England centre forward Danny Welbeck, according to reports.
It would be a tremendous scoop for the Royals and would hand them a massive boost in their fight against relegation, but what would it mean for Welbeck and United?
Following a successful loan spell at Sunderland in the 2010/11 season the gangly forward became an important first team figure for United last term, forming a great partnership and understanding with Wayne Rooney up top.
His pace and athleticism gave United an extra dimension, his link up play and deft touches in and around the penalty area created chances aplenty for himself and his teammates.
Last summer saw Danny lead the line for England at Euro 2012 and establish himself firmly in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts, scoring the winning goal against Sweden to help England progress beyond the group stages – everything was looking good for the man from Longsight.
However, the arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal has seen Welbeck largely demoted to bench duty with the Dutchamn recording a staggering 16 goals in 21 appearances so far, monopolising the centre forward position.
As the season has worn on he has also slipped behind Javier Hernandez in the United pecking order, who has rediscovered the form of his debut season, and has seen most of his opportunities come in wide positions, mainly operating from the left hand side.
In truth he is not a wide man, he is able and competent but not comfortable or natural; he drifts naturally inside to try and affect the play and often overcrowds the central areas, limiting space for Rooney, Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa to operate in.
His ability to play out wide has been a welcome boost to a United team that have missed Ashley Young and Nani for long periods of the season.
It is testament to him that he accepts the challenge for the good of the team rather than publicly airing his frustration at not playing in his preferred position, as we have seen in the past from his England colleagues Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturridge.
This typifies the attitude that makes Welbeck the archetypal United player, especially under Ferguson who expects that players have the ability to play in any number of positions at the drop of a hat for the greater good of the team.
A loan move could be beneficial to Welbeck, offering him a chance to play regularly in his preferred position through the middle and giving him the chance to hone his abilities – in particular his finishing, which can be lax at times.
Reading would likely prove to be a good destination for Welbeck as they are a side that look to play attacking football, keeping the ball on the deck and Sir Alex Ferguson has commented himself in the past that the pressure clubs fighting for the title are under is little compared to those scrapping to stay in the division.
So if Welbeck can score goals for Reading it should stand him in good stead for his Old Trafford return.
Losing Welbeck could potentially leave United a little light up front with only Van Persie, Hernandez and Rooney as genuine striking options.
An injury to one or more could leave them exposed especially if they are to progress in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.
Injury has already hit United in the wide areas this season and Welbeck provides extra depth in that department though they do have the options of playing Rooney, Kagawa or Tom Cleverley out wide if pushed.
Ultimately, I’d be surprised to see Welbeck depart in January due to the impact it could have on United’s season, but a loan move could aid his development and either way we can expect plenty more in the future from Danny Welbeck in a Manchester United shirt.
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