Danny Welbeck will be fit enough for a place o the bench against Chelsea in the Europa League final on Wednesday.
The forward, who will leave the club this summer and who has not played for Arsenal since breaking his ankle back in November, has stepped up his recovery and now looks set to be included in the matchday squad in the absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Speaking this week, Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi explained why they’re letting Welbeck go this summer as the striker’s contract comes to an end.
Sanllehi talked to Laura Woods on Arsenal Player, and, as part of the interview, he answered questions on Welbeck’s departure. First, he explained the decision-making process involved in the final call.
“In ways, it is quite similar to the Aaron situation,” Sanllehi said. “This summer we were in talks with him to see if [he would stay or go], he had several offers [to leave] he decided to continue in the club until the end of the contract. We respected that.
“We knew that he was going to add a lot to the club over the last year, but again, we were in the last year of contract so it was a very similar situation.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Welbeck’s thought process was, but presumably, he was hoping that by staying with Arsenal he could help them back into the Champions League and earn a new contract. That way he could continue playing top-level football at a big club, rather than settling for one of his transfer offers.
Unfortunately, the striker’s injury back in November meant his good early goalscoring form wasn’t enough to achieve either target.
“Well, that [injury] is the only risk of going to the last year of the contract,” Sanllehi added. “You have all the upsides on the strength that you have to negotiate a new contract elsewhere, but the risk that you’re running is getting an injury on your last year, yes.”
Under Unai Emery, Welbeck has played just 14 times and while there is no doubt he would have seen more game time if his ankle hadn’t snapped like it was made of Jack Wilshere DNA, his return of 32 goals and 15 assists from 126 games since his £16m transfer from Manchester United in 2014 has hardly spoken of restrained striker just waiting for a run of fitness.
It was recently reported that Welbeck’s agent had been offering him around with Newcastle declining the chance to sign him but he is unlikely to have a shortage of offers. Galatasaray have been long-time admirers and now there is no fee involved could well step up.
Everton, West Ham and Valencia have also been mentioned as possible destinations for the 28-year-old.