The news that Danny Welbeck has signed a new four-year deal with the club has been well received almost universally among Manchester United supporters, and for good reason too.
Despite being only 21 years of age, Danny Welbeck has already notched up an impressive 65 senior appearances for the club, speaking volumes of the faith Sir Alex has in the young forward. It is faith that is recognition of the striker’s immense quality, a true all rounder who combines a silky touch with surprisingly quick feet and an eye for the pass. It is these qualities that earned further recognition in the off-season, as he spearheaded England’s charge for a quarter-final berth at the European Championships, at which his United striker partner, Wayne Rooney, was banned from participating in the opening two games.
Earning his Premier League stripes at Sunderland in the 2010/11 season, it has been a tremendous joy to watch Welbeck, who has been at United since the age of eight, grow from the spritely young teen who made his debut with a thrilling goal in a 5-0 win over Stoke City in 2008, to the young man we currently see today. The four-year contract he recently signed is due recognition of his improvement to date, but also of that which is still hopefully to come for the born and bred Mancunian.
A fantastic work ethic, a developing partnership with Wayne Rooney, immense quality on the ball and a sharp football brain all point to a big future at United for Welbeck, but he is still by no means the finished article. Although he has made 65 appearances for the club, many of which have come as a substitute, Welbeck’s consistency in front of goal is perhaps the area in which the forward needs to improve most. A return of 17 goals in 65 games is not the greatest goal to game ratio for a forward, and whilst playing up front might not be all about scoring goals, particulary when the rest of your game is as good as Welbeck’s, it is a brave man who argues it is not a substantial part.
There is little doubting Welbeck’s ability to find the back of the net. Though he only has 17 goals to his name, quite a few of those have been absolutely superb finishes. From his debut piledriver against Stoke, to his crisp finish in the same season in the Carling Cup against Derby County, right through to his last goal of last season when he put away a brilliant curling shot at Old Trafford against Everton, Welbeck is undoubtedly a player capable of finishing from almost anywhere in or around the the 18-yard box on his day. Those days are coming a little too few and far between for Welbeck right now, but at such a young age, there is plenty of time for Welbeck to improve on this aspect of his game.
There is certainly no shortage of world class talent to learn from in that respect. Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie are two world class forwards, both capable of scoring over 20 goals a season, and whilst Welbeck’s playing time may be curbed a little with the addition of last season’s top scorer in the Premier League, he would do well to take this opportunity to learn from one of the best goalscorers in the game in Van Persie. It would be a lot to expect Welbeck to score 20 goals himself given the ammount of games he is likely to play given United’s abundance of forwards, but if he can achieve a goal/game ratio of, or close to, a goal for every two games, he would be well on the way to hitting those sorts of numbers when he eventually, hopefully, emerges as one of United’s first choice forwards.
With plenty of time to improve, more than his fair share of experience behind him already and working with some of the best forwards in all of football, we can look forward to improvement from Welbeck, not only in the weakest area of his game, but also the strongest areas.
The once wiry looking teen has filled out considerably over the last three years, which has undoubtedly helped him to improve, but with further physical growth set to come, Welbeck could be an extremely dangerous asset for the Red Devils, if he can successfully fuse that physical presence with his tight footwork and natural ability on the ball.
Tying Welbeck down to a four-year deal will prove of great importance in the future, with the striker set for a big role in the next generation of United’s side. Super Danny still has plenty to offer today, but he undoubtedly remains one for the future.