Manchester United would have been better off keeping Danny Welbeck than selling him to Arsenal and signing Radamel Falcao, who has badly flopped so far.
The 24-year-old had grown tired of being used as a wide man when his best position was through the middle and was tipped to leave United even before the loan signing of Falcao.
He returns to Old Trafford for the first time since his £16m exit from his boyhood club and former Red Devils forward Louis Saha says he should get a warm reception. “It is strange because you have so many great memories with team-mates that you are now facing,” he said.
“You want to prove that you are a top player. Danny will do his best to show that – that’s part of the game because we are professional and we like competition.
“It’s always special because Old Trafford is a special place to play football. I think he will receive a good reception and, at the same time, a lot of respect.”
Welbeck started his Arsenal career in good form but as the season has progressed his performances have dipped, while he has been shifted out wide to accommodate the in-form Olivier Giroud.
This was always the likely scenario, though, with Welbeck only leading the attack due to Giroud being out injured with a broken leg – with him returning at the end of November.
So, just like when he was playing out wide for United, Welbeck’s scoring ratio has gone down in recent times as a consequence of the Frenchman’s return. In total Welbeck has seven goals in all competitions this season for the Gunners from 21 appearances – with just one goal since the end of November.
Ironically, the man who effectively replaced him, Falcao (reportedly earns £265,000 a week), has struggled – with the Colombian managing just four goals. Yet with Wayne Rooney playing in a deeper midfield role Falcao is getting plenty of opportunities up-front – more than what would have been enough to appease Welbeck.
Welbeck’s scoring has not been great for Arsenal and now he is finding himself back where he does not want to be – out wide. United, meanwhile, have swapped him for a striker that is rarely scoring.
Maybe it would have been best all round if Welbeck had just stayed put at United, with Van Gaal opting against signing Falcao.