Following Arsenal‘s 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, the coaches and players took part in the annual lap of appreciation. The club also took the opportunity to say goodbye to three players who are leaving in the summer. One of them was Danny Welbeck, who is being allowed to leave for free.
Letting Danny Welbeck Leave for Free a Mistake by Arsenal
Experience, Value, Versatility
Before succumbing to an ankle injury back in November, Danny Welbeck proved a valuable squad member. Certainly, he was never going to earn the place of first-choice striker, not when both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are at the club.
However, the former Manchester United player did contribute with his versatility. Welbeck lined up not only as a striker for Arsenal this season but also a winger, being deployed mainly on the left.
As the Arsenal squad lacks traditional wingers, the ability to deploy Welbeck as a wide forward gave Unai Emery tactical flexibility. It also gave him the option to rotate the squad much more than he has since the injury.
When Welbeck was available, neither Aubameyang or Lacazette had to start. Now, with the only other fit striker at the club being an untested Eddie Nketiah, at least one must be on the field at all times.
Welbeck made his debut for United in 2008. While his play time has been regularly curtailed due to injury, he has still been able to make 304 first-team appearances in his career.
That makes Welbeck a fairly experienced Premier League veteran, a valuable commodity in the dressing room. He would be able to help young players make the transition from academy product to first-team regular, much as he did under Sir Alex Ferguson.
As Arsenal wish to bring as many youth players through the ranks as possible, this would only help. Theoretically speaking, his experience also makes him calmer under pressure than a younger player.
With all that said, it is worth mentioning that Danny Welbeck is a somewhat limited footballer. His best season as far as scoring goes came back in 2011/12 with 12 across all competitions. Since then, he has reached ten goals in just two seasons.
Part of the problem has been his injury record. According to Transfermarkt, Welbeck has sustained four separate injuries which kept him out of action for more than 100 days. He’s suffered a further six that kept him out for between 21 and 99 days.
The player is also known to miss a sitter from time to time. The injury record combined with this inconsistency probably made Arsenal’s decision to allow Welbeck to leave on a free.
Squad Now in Need of Replacement
A Premier League club cannot rely on just two strikers for an entire season. Arsenal, specifically, cannot enter another season without any recognized wide forwards. Therefore, the Gunners will need to dip into the transfer market in order to replace Danny Welbeck.
While they should be able to do so without breaking the bank, they already have a number of areas on the pitch which are in need of attention this summer. They will need defensive help in the form of a new centre-back and at least one fullback.
Arsenal may also need to purchase a new backup goalkeeper. With Aaron Ramsey departing, they will need a new midfielder. Now, they need depth in attack as well.
No one is quite sure how much money the club has to spend this summer. Conservative reports indicate £45 million, while more liberal estimates tout as much as £100 million should the club qualify for the Champions League.
There is also the issue of losing an asset for nothing. If Arsenal had kept Welbeck, they could have possibly recouped some of the reported £16 million it took to bring the player to the Emirates.
While the player is limited, his qualities outweigh his shortcomings and he is a good squad player. Now Arsenal will have to find a new squad player to fill his shoes.
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