With Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester the huge talking point of the summer of 2012, Arsenal snatched Manchester United’s very own Danny Welbeck on deadline day in September.
Both sets of fans were somewhat aggrieved.
Two and a half years ago Arsenal lost their best player and captain to the side who had been their biggest competitive rivals for much of the last twenty years.
Leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of Arsenal fans across the world, Robin van Persie’s first season in Manchester saw the Dutchman score thirty goals. A considerable twenty-six of them, accompanied by nine assists, came in the Premier League, as Manchester United strolled to the title.
He directly contributed to a goal every ninety minutes, and it was painful to watch.
Injuries slowed van Persie down following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, yet he still managed twelve league goals in just eighteen starts.
David Moyes was the problem, right?
Louis van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford already having a good relationship with the former Arsenal captain, who had been van Gaal’s very own captain for the Netherlands as recently as last summer.
Yet under the guidance of his countryman, van Persie has only managed a modest ten goals in twenty-four Premier League starts. The thirty-one year old Dutchman appears to be ageing quickly, and his talent is waning.
The van Persie deal, all-inclusive, cost Manchester United £70M.
Transfer fees are one thing but committing to a huge contract with an injury prone player approaching his thirties was another risk they took with the transfer.
One league title later and he is no longer a key component of the team, and already looks a shadow of his former self. At his age and with his injury record, he has no real resale value – particularly taking into account his form this season.
At £70M van Persie had one very expensive good season, but it seems that the rest of his Manchester United career won’t be remembered too fondly.
Perhaps not the wisest investment.
Maybe not quite as unsettled as we were by van Persie’s move to Old Trafford, plenty of Manchester United fans were certainly sad to see a homegrown Manc like Welbeck leave the club.
Danny Welbeck’s Arsenal career has got off to a fine enough but unspectacular start. He won’t be kicking-off with a thirty-goal season, nor will he win the Premier League this campaign.
Welbeck has chiefly been used wide, only deputising for Olivier Giroud up front when the Frenchman was injured. That this coincided with a bad run of form wasn’t his fault, with Santi Cazorla struggling in midfield and Mesut Özil out injured. Cazorla has since starting playing well – opening with an assist for Welbeck at West Brom – and Özil has returned even more recently, but both have done so with Giroud up front again.
Welbeck is just 24 years old and half a season into life at a new club.
The England international is dynamic, a strong and pacey forward who has been slightly unlucky with who he had playing behind him during his fourteen or so starts up front this season. Coming into a new Arsenal team, Welbeck barely had a rest, but seven goals so far isn’t a bad haul.
Performances for England, specifically against Switzerland, and a hat-trick against Galatasaray have displayed Welbeck’s ability to finish. It’s something we’ve seen too sporadically as of yet but also a part of his game he can and will work hard to improve.
As Arsène Wenger would say, Welbeck has ‘huge physical potential’.
His game has to be refined but he is in the right hands as far as that is concerned.
His advantage over Giroud and Theo Walcott is the number of strings he has to his bow, giving him a great chance to become Arsenal’s first choice striker in time.
If things don’t go well he can, at his age – and with the fact he is English – probably be sold for something in the region of the £16M he was signed for in September.
If they do, he will prove to have been a more than excellent investment, and a huge coup for Arsenal.
I don’t know about ‘revenge’ for the van Persie deal, but in the long run I think Welbeck could prove a far better piece of business.
Robin van Persie offered Manchester United one successful season.
Danny Welbeck has all the tools to give Arsenal a fantastic career.