Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is not someone who holds back his opinions, and he certainly did not mince his words when explaining his decision to sell Danny Welbeck.
The England international striker was offloaded to Arsenal for a reported fee of £16 million on transfer deadline day, much to the surprise of many former footballers and pundits.
Welbeck has long been said to be a player who could make a place in United’s starting line-up his own and is also a regular figure in Roy Hodgson’s England squad.
However, Van Gaal does not have much faith in his quality and told reporters on Thursday: ‘Yes, Danny Welbeck was here from when he was nine. He has played, after (his 2010-11 loan spell at) Sunderland, three seasons at Manchester United but he doesn’t have the record of (Robin) Van Persie or (Wayne) Rooney and that is the standard. That is why we let him go – because of Falcao but also the youngsters who can fit in’.
Rene Meulensteen worked with Welbeck when he was a coach at United, and he has now given his take on the matter.
‘I had him from when he was 8, 9 years of age and I think the best of Danny is yet to come’, the Dutchman told talkSPORT. ‘He is a very versatile player and I’m 100% sure he will do very, very well for Arsenal...
‘People keep saying about Danny Welbeck not scoring enough goals, but you have to look at the people with him and in front of him and how many games has he really played in his preferred position?’
Once can see Meulensteen’s point. During his time at United, Welbeck was often used out on the wide and not as a centre-forward – a key reason why he did not score the goals that would have given him a track record to satisfy Van Gaal.
But then again, one has to ask why Welbeck was not played as a centre-forward at United. True, there was competition from Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, but why couldn’t Welbeck compete with them and win his place?
Why couldn’t he show Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes that he could be trusted with the centre-forward's role? In fact, why did the Red Devils feel the need to sign Van Persie from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 instead of maintaining their faith in Welbeck?
The best of Welbeck is yet to come – that is for sure - but one can also understand United’s perspective. In Van Persie, Rooney and Falcao, they have ‘proven’ strikers; Welbeck is still developing and, despite his recent heroics for England, cannot be counted among the best players in the Premier League.
Perhaps a few years ago Welbeck would have been given more time and chances at Old Trafford, but the European giants need results right now and cannot afford to put their faith in someone who at 23 is still ‘unproven’.