Arsenal’s search for a striker ended some two hours after the summer transfer window officially closed on Monday night. So late in the day was Wenger’s move for Danny Welbeck that the Gunners had to apply for an extension in order to get the deal done, with time quickly running out.
At 1am the deal was sealed and Welbeck officially became an Arsenal player. His signing, on the same day Manchester United announced a loan move for Radamel Falcao split opinion amongst Arsenal fans.The club has consistently told their loyal supporters that they can now compete for the World’s best players. In fact they have backed these statements up with the signings of Ozil and Sanchez, yet with the Gunners in desperate need of a centre forward, they seemingly turned down the opportunity to sign one of the World’s finest in Falcao and instead signed a player Manchester United deemed surplus to requirements. Had the Gunners stumped up the cash to land the Colombian striker it would have potentially been a real game changer. Add a player of that quality to this Arsenal squad and suddenly they are transformed from also-rans into genuine title contenders. But there was a major stumbling block. Yes Arsenal are now in a far healthier financial position than ever before, but they still cannot possibly sanction Falcao’s reported wage of £350 thousand a week.
But why Welbeck? Certainly there were far more prolific centre forwards on the market who Arsenal could have moved for and at a more reasonable price than Falcao, such as Jackson Martinez or Mattia Destro. But Arsenal left it to the last minute and deals for such players would have been far too complicated to conclude in the final few hours of the transfer window. In fact several reports suggested that Wenger was not actively looking to sign a striker until Welbeck seemingly became available and the manager saw it as too good an opportunity to turn down, indicating just how highly he rates his new signing.
So Welbeck it is, and if you look beyond his goals to games ratio, he could turn out to be a great fit for this Arsenal side. Welbeck is strong, good in the air, can link up play well and has the natural pace to get in behind the opposition defence which Giroud lacks. As one pundit described it, Welbeck is the perfect amalgamation of Giroud and Sanogo’s strengths. While he may not have been prolific in a Man United shirt, it should be noted that he was mainly deployed on the flanks during his time at Old Trafford and therefore his goals to games ratio (29 goals in 142 United appearances) should be taken into perspective. In fact during a 9 game spell last season when David Moyes played Welbeck up front, the Englishman scored 6 goals, suggesting that if Wenger were to play him in his favoured position, with the Arsenal midfield providing the right service, Welbeck has the ability to score plenty of goals for the Gunners.
Still only 23, the same squad number he has chosen at his new club and already boasting plenty of big game and Champions League experience, the former Manchester United man still has his best years ahead of him. Welbeck’s attitude should also be commended. His team ethic and work rate have long been admired, but his decision to move away from the club he joined aged 8 shows a determination to succeed. It would have been easy for Welbeck to sit on the side-lines at Old Trafford, playing the odd game here and there. But instead he decided to seek a new start at a club where the manager truly believes in his talent and ability. With Giroud out injured until January, Welbeck has a clear opportunity to come into the side in his favoured role and stake his claim as the main man at the club. Rio Ferdinand, who trained with him day in day out for six years at Manchester United certainly believes he can do so, stating: “Welbeck is a top signing for Arsenal. If he gets that trust to be No 1 striker at AFC he will flourish and explode.” Arsenal supporters will hope he does exactly that.