Perhaps the biggest surprise of the summer transfers was the late swoop by Arsenal for 23-year-old Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.
The Gunners had received a set-back with news of a long-term injury to French International Olivier Giroud and Wenger was forced to act quickly to fill the void. A goal from summer signing Alexis Sanchez clinched qualification to the Group stages of the Champions League but it was evident that a new striker would be needed for the long season ahead.
Arsenal had been linked with various strikers during the summer but the capture of Welbeck came as a surprise to many. Louis van Gaal’s massive restructuring of Manchester United suddenly opened up the possibility of the England International moving on and he jumped at the chance to join Arsenal.
The move seems even better after he scored twice for his country in their opening European Championship fixture in Switzerland and it is clear that not everyone at Old Trafford is happy with his exit. United fans were still coming to the terms with the news of the arrival of Radamel Falcao when news of the Welbeck transfer broke. Welbeck has come through the ranks at United with loan spells at Preston and Sunderland before breaking into the first team.
Arsenal also have Theo Walcott on the side-lines and there is little doubt that Welbeck will be given the central strikers role that he craves. He scored 20 goals in 92 league games for United, a statistic that seemingly failed to impress Van Gaal. The fee was reported to be in the region of £16million and his new boss has already been highlighting the need to play him in a more central role. He was never really established in United’s starting eleven and was often asked to play wide.
Ironically, Arsenal came in for a lot of criticism for allowing former skipper Robin van Persie to sign for title rivals United. Wenger later stated his surprise that Chelsea were willing to allow Juan Mata to go to Old Trafford after he had been such an influential player at Stamford Bridge. There is no question that Giroud’s injury was a catalyst for Welbeck’s move but Arsenal may have got themselves a bargain.
For Welbeck, it was a golden opportunity to claim a regular starting place with a top Premiership side and play in the Champions League. Louis van Gaal could not guarantee either of those things at Old Trafford.