Pursuing a new challenge

The move to Arsenal comes with the promise that Danny Welbeck will be played as a striker, with the trust and responsibility he was perhaps not fully given at his boyhood club, Manchester United, writes Thomas Pyman.

After winning the FA Cup at Wembley in May this year and ending their nine-year wait for a trophy, Arsenal are looking to use that success as a launchpad towards further glory.

The Gunners topped the Premier League for longer than anyone else last season, but fell away at the business end, finishing in the increasingly-familiar fourth position.

A number of new signings were made in the summer to strengthen the squad and give Arsenal the best chance of winning their first league title since 2004.

One such signing was, of course, Danny Welbeck, who joined in a GBP16 million deal from Manchester United on deadline day.

The 23-year-old appeared to have reached something of a crossroads in his career and expressed his excitement at pursuing a new challenge after spending his entire career up to that date at United.

Welbeck was first spotted by Manchester United scouts aged just six, and eventually joined the club’s academy two years later. As a teenager he suffered from Osgood-Schlatter disease which affected his knees during a growth spurt, but still impressed enough to sign as a trainee in 2007.

His first appearance for the senior team came in a testimonial match in Saudi Arabia, in which Welbeck won a penalty but blazed it over the crossbar.

He made his competitive debut against Middlesbrough in the League Cup in September 2008, before scoring a stunning goal from 30 yards on his first Premier League appearance against Stoke City two months later.

He signed a professional contract the following season but moved on loan to Preston North End in search of regular first-team football. There he played eight times, scoring twice, but returned to United after injuring his knee.

Another loan move was on the cards at the start of the 2010/11 season, this time to Sunderland, where Welbeck really began to make a name for himself.

He scored six goals in 26 league games for the Black Cats, including one in their memorable 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and impressed with his pace, energy and work-rate.

In March 2011, Welbeck earned his first senior England cap, coming on as a substitute in a friendly against Ghana at Wembley.

The forward returned to United in the summer of 2011 and started every game in August, scoring against both Tottenham and his future employers in a memorable 8-2 win at Old Trafford.

Welbeck opened his Champions League account with a brace against Swiss side Basel and ended the season with 12 goals in 39 games and a nomination for PFA Young Player of the Year.

His performances earned him a place in the England squad that travelled to Poland and Ukraine for the European Championship. Welbeck’s first international goal came in a warm-up match against Belgium, and he then scored the winner against Sweden to help England reach the quarterfinals of the competition where they were knocked out by Italy.

United won the title in the 2012/13 season, giving Welbeck his first league winner’s medal, but following the signing of Robin van Persie, he often found himself out of position on the wing, or out of the team altogether. He was again nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award despite scoring just once in the league all season.

Welbeck enjoyed more success the following season as David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson, scoring nine goals in 25 league games, though still vented his frustration at being played out of position.

He went to his first World Cup this summer in Brazil and started games against Italy and Uruguay, but England disappointingly failed to qualify from the group, bringing their tournament to a premature end.

The move to Arsenal comes with the promise that he will be played as a striker, with the trust and responsibility he was perhaps not fully given at his boyhood club.

His recent brace for England against Switzerland is evidence enough of his capabilities as a centre forward and he opened his Arsenal account at Aston Villa recently.

Now it is up to Arsene Wenger to get that kind of ruthless efficiency out of him every week — and for Welbeck to prove he is prolific enough to justify his new role.

FACTFILE NAME: Danny Welbeck. POSITION: Striker. DOB: 26/11/1990. CLUB: Arsenal. ENGLAND CAPS: 28. INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 10.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Winning the Premier League with Manchester United in 2013.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Missing a penalty on his Manchester United debut.

PA Sport