From a plethora of silverware at Old Trafford to being ridiculed ‘Bambi on ice’ at the Emirates, Danny Welbeck has ridden a football roller coaster.
The Englishman has endured significant criticism recently due to his failure to convert clear cut chances and his inability to keep possession of the ball. Reports suggest Welbeck is likely to leave North London this summer as Unai Emery continues to change his squad to the way he sees fit. Everton, Brighton, Valencia and Fulham are all rumoured to have an interest in the former Manchester United forward. It is evident Emery is willing to spend which therefore also requires him to move players on who are surplus to requirements. As a result, Welbeck may be a victim of Arsenal’s transfer dealings.
Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck is Manchester through and through. Part of their youth academy since the age of 8, the forward signed a trainee contract with the Red Devils in 2007 at 17 years of age. His Premier League debut in November propelled him into the spotlight with a superb 30 yard curling strike into the top corner. Glimpses of talent and promise followed which eventually rewarded Welbeck with a start in the 2009 League Cup final that United won. He was then sent on loan to Preston North End for half of the 2009/10 season for first team opportunities.
Yet due to injury, this loan was cut short in March. A season on loan in the northeast with Sunderland (2010/11) was exactly what the Mancunian needed. A goal in a 3-0 away win against Chelsea as well as a brace in a 2-2 draw from the forward received plaudits galore. 4 goals before the new year was an impressive feat for the 21 year old, with widespread calls for him to be in the England team. Yet an eight week hamstring injury, as well as an injury towards the end of the season, stagnated his goal scoring form, only allowing him to add 2 more to his tally on Wearside.
A series of starts alongside Wayne Rooney and consistent appearances followed in the 2011/12 season for Welbeck, arguably his best season (period) in England’s top flight. His opening goal against Tottenham and a goal in the 8-2 demolition of future team Arsenal suggested the Englishman had the pedigree as well as the quality to succeed at the pinnacle of English football. Despite injury yet again ruling him out for several weeks, he returned with impressive performances, including a brace in the Champions League against Basel, a goal in a 3-2 victory against Manchester City and the winner against Arsenal. 12 goals in all competitions, most of which coming against high profile opposition, nominated Welbeck for PFA Young Player of the Season 2012.
However, 2012/13 was the polar opposite for the forward with just 2 goals in 40 appearances. This poor form did raise eyebrows, yet new Red Devils manager David Moyes continued with the former PFA Young Player nominee.
2013/14 was a return to good form for Welbeck. 6 goals in 6 premier league games between December and January suggested he had returned to his 2011/12 form. Goals against West Ham, Norwich and Tottenham followed with his final goal of the season against West Brom taking his tally to 10 goals in all competitions. Yet he expressed his intention to leave Manchester in order to play for as a striker rather than on the wing. With new manager Louis Van Gaal also bringing in Radamel Falcao, Welbeck knew his time was done at Old Trafford.
A £16 million switch to the Emirates followed in 2014 on deadline day. He scored his first senior hat trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League whilst also scoring the winner against former side Manchester United to knock them out of the Champions League. However, injury came back to haunt the Englishman and he was out for almost 12 months.
5 goals in the 11 games he played in 2015/16 suggested Welbeck had something to offer, but yet again the injury prone forward was out for 9 months. 4 goals in 2016/17 was decent considering his circumstances, yet the Emirates faithful were starting to lose patience over their £16 million striker. 10 goals in 2017/18 were more than satisfactory for a backup striker to Alexandre Lacazette, but missing key chances and losing the ball repeatedly overshadowed his tally for the season.
Welbeck is considered a strong, fast and hardworking forward due to his physical attributes. His height has made him good in the air for club and country, whilst his ability to hold up the ball in the past makes him an effective second striker for any team. However, his dribbling and ball control tends to let him down in the final third, as well as his tendency to miss clear cut chances from time to time, evidently frustrating fan bases he plays for.
With Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Lacazette and young talent such as Reiss Nelson, the 27 year old will struggle to break into Arsenal’s forward line. Considering his injury record and lack of reliability, £15 million for Welbeck would be a great offer for Arsenal, who are likely to be happy to let him go. But £15 million for a supposedly ‘big game player’ that has Premier League experience could potentially be a decent signing. Whether Danny Welbeck could rediscover his 2011/12 form and be the exciting striker that he was once touted to be, only time will tell.