Danny Welbeck has had an indifferent time since leaving Manchester United. The forward has averaged just 45 minutes per game in his 106 games since leaving and has only 18 goals to his name; he was released by Watford on Tuesday and is currently looking for a club. At only 29, there’s still time for him to forge a decent career but he will need to pick the right club.
But just what is the right move? Where can he go that is going to give him an opportunity to get his career back on track?
Here are three options:
West Brom have suffered three defeats from four so far this season and have the lowest xG in the league – 1.52. They also have the fewest minutes per chance; they only creating a chance every 14 minutes and have only created one big change. It is clear whomever they play up front is not going to improve their creativity but their striker, Callum Robinson has a goal conversion of 50% – the second highest in the league.
It is Sheffield United who have the honour of the worst goal conversion, only scoring with 3% of their shots to date and the Blades one goal scorer this season, David McGoldrick, has managed only five shots. United have been better at creating chances for their whole team and he fact that their main striker has only managed five shots from their 33 created is not great showing for the forward. McGoldrick has not even been the most involved striker for United – Billy Sharp has a penalty area touch every ten minutes, McBurnie every 20.25; McGoldrick, for comparison, has a penalty are touch every 53.3 minutes.
United have just signed Rhian Brewster for a club record fee and may therefore not be in the market for another striker but Welbeck’s record speaks for itself. He averages a goal every three Premier League games and an assist in just under every five games. Brewster was in better form than that in his loan stint to Swansea – scoring a goal every 167 minutes – but he is yet to play a Premier League game. Welbeck could be an excellent option for a team as a rotation option and as someone of great experience to nurture Brewster, whose career is in its infancy.
FC Schalke 04
Schalke are one of Germany’s most successful clubs winning the top division on seven occasions. They have been trophyless since the 2010/11 season when they won the DFB-Pokal cup and are currently in a slump. They scored a mere 38 goals last season on their way to a 12th place finish and the only two teams who scored fewer goals were both relegated.
The team have bought in Mark Uth from FC Koln who had 1.5 key passes per game last year and they will hope that he improves upon the 54 big chances the team created last year. Should they do that, they will need a much better goal scorer to finish off chances. The team from Gelsenkirchen did bring in Gonçalo Paciência and Vedad Ibiševi? as attacking reinforcements but there is no doubt that Welbeck could bring something to the team. Paciência managed only 7 goals last season and at 36, Ibiševi? will not be expected to contribute much.
As with Sheffield United, the fact that Schalke have established strikers could play into Welbeck’s frail hands. The striker has only completed a thirty game season once and has spent nearly 900 days out injured since leaving United He clearly needs to be well-managed and a Schalke are a club with options who are in dire need of a goalscoring threat. With the right management, they could be the perfect club for the 42 cap England international.
Okay, here me out… The Citizens hold the record for goals scored in a league season with 106 in the 2017/18 season, they had five players who averaged better than a goal every two games, and Sergio Aguero has 180 league goals in 263 games; they are clearly not in need of a goal scorer… Until they are.
Last season, Gabriel Jesus missed 24 big chances and Aguero missed 25 games in all competition through injury last season. In their games against Leicester and Leeds this season, with both out, City managed only seven shots on target in both games. Against Leeds, they only managed two shots on target despite having 16 from inside the area and 23 overall. City are not necessarily crying out for a rotation striker but they do need someone to lead the line when Aguero and Jesus are out.
This would not be the first time that a top team have looked for a seemingly washed up striker to fill a gap. In 2009, reigning champions, Manchester United signed Michael Owen upon his release from relegated Newcastle United. The former Ballon d’Or winner never had a 20 goal Premier League season and had missed over 649 days to injury in four years at Newcastle but went on to be a key member of the Manchester United squad. Owen scored 17 goals in 52 games over three seasons and was used as a squad member only playing 31 times in the league; at United, he picked up his only league win as well as winning a League Cup and this is a role that City might consider, for Welbeck, in order to give their main strikers more of a rest.
Wherever Welbeck goes, he needs to be well-managed. He was excellent as the Hornets attempted to beat the drop and showed he still has the quality to perform at the highest level. Unfortunately, his injury record will prevent teams like West Brom, who would be looking for a main striker, signing him; he will therefore be looking for a role wherein he could share the striking duties. At Schalke and Sheffield United, he would not necessarily be the first choice – Schalke because of their depth and Sheffield United because they would want to develop their record signing – and at Manchester City, he could be used as third choice and to alleviate some of the pressure on Sergio Aguero who has been unlucky with his own injuries. He has still got a lot to offer and whomever comes in for him will feel they have could have a bargain on their hands.