What next for Danny Welbeck after Arsenal exit?
Background image: Ed g2s, CC BY-SA 3.0
A dark cloud fell at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as Arsenal all but failed to make the top four for this campaign. A 1-1 draw at home against Chris Hughton’s Brighton in the penultimate league game of the season means the Gunners cannot qualify for next season’s Champions League through the Premier League route, barring an unlikely eight-goal swing on the final day, even if they win away at Burnley. However, the ceremony that followed lifted the mood at the Emirates as some of the players on their way out were honoured for their service to the club.
Headlining the show was Aaron Ramsey, who has spent over 11 years at Arsenal and is on his way to Italian champions Juventus. Goalkeeper Petr Cech and forward Danny Welbeck completed the list.
While Cech is expected to take up a coaching position with his former side Chelsea, Welbeck’s destination is yet unknown. The Englishman suffered a serious ankle injury in November that ruled him out of Arsenal's remaining part of the season. With his contract at the club running out at the end of the campaign, Unai Emery recently announced the forward was set to leave the North London side.
At 28, and as an England international, it is curious that Welbeck is being allowed to leave. Especially more so at a time when Arsenal is in need of additional quality. But it’s not surprising. After failing to secure a top four finish, Emery will want to add genuine quality in order to improve his chances for the next campaign. Although Welbeck put in some good outings under former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, he did not impress his new manager.
"I spoke with the club and this situation, and the decision is he is going to leave."
Danny Welbeck to leave @Arsenal on free transfer, Unai Emery confirms: https://t.co/KRxG5kjmc6 https://t.co/4G5WaJJhFO
It was clear Welbeck was not in Emery’s plans from early into the Spaniard’s reign, as he was limited to seven substitute appearances during this season's first eight league outings. Injuries also played a part. The former Manchester United forward has suffered several injuries in the last few years that have kept him on the sidelines for long periods of time. Soon set to leave Arsenal as a free agent, the question now is what the future holds for a player who was once seen as having the potential to achieve great things.
It is difficult to envisage which top club could take a chance on Welbeck. Not only very prone to injury, but when fit, he has not displayed the form that tempted Arsenal to move for him while he was at Old Trafford.
But the fact that Welbeck is a free agent and has filed out for two of the Premier League's top teams means his experience as a squad member could prove valuable to some mid table or newly promoted sides.
In that regard, another London outfit, West Ham United is a possible destination. That's if Manuel Pellegrini agrees. Unfortunately, with a squad that already has several injury-prone players, that may not be a risk worth taking for the Hammers. Yet, for Welbeck, there shouldn't be a shortage of options.
Sides like Burnley, Brighton and even the newly promoted in Norwich and Sheffield United could benefit from Welbeck's experience. If he is able to stay fit, he can add the goals which could prove the difference between relegation and Premier League survival for those teams.