Analysis: Will Danny Welbeck be a profitable gamble for Brighton and Hove Albion?

Danny Welbeck playing for Watford during the pandemic lockdown last season (2019/2020)Danny Welbeck playing for Watford during the pandemic lockdown last season (2019/2020)
Danny Welbeck playing for Watford during the pandemic lockdown last season (2019/2020)
Looking at Danny Welbeck's strengths and weaknesses, will he be a good addition to Brighton and Hove Albion's squad?

Danny Welbeck has played at the higher echelons of professional football, turning out for Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and the England national team, but he has never reached the hype that surrounded him early on in his career. Why?

Let's take a look at his strengths and weaknesses now that he has joined Albion as a free agent this season.

Strengths

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Welbeck has played at the top level in world football: he has a Champions League Winners medal, two Premier League titles, a FIFA World Club Cup medal and 46 caps for his country, among other bits of silverware. This wealth of experience, spanning over 12 years, starting in 2008, is invaluable and will surely offer benefits to Albion's young squad.

This knowledge and experience is the type of thing which has its influence around the club and on the training pitch on a daily basis, which we don't get to see as fans, but I'm sure Graham Potter and the rest of the squad will mention Welbeck's off-the-field effect over the course of the season.

Looking more at the type of player Welbeck is, according to WhoScored.com, the striker's strong characteristics include aerial duels, physical strength, finishing, hold-up play and his defensive contribution.

Some of these characteristics are things which Brighton do not get with Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly at the moment in attack, most notably the physical strength, aeriel duels and hold-up play, with all respect to Maupay and Connolly.

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Therefore, if I'm the Brighton transfer committee or Graham Potter, I'm seeing an experienced player who has the ability to change the team's dynamic and provide a Plan B - and as Welbeck is a free agent, why not take a chance and see how it goes?

Weaknesses

Welbeck has spent a total of 907 days of his career, or two-and-a-half calendar years, on the recovery table. He has played 11,965 minutes of Premier League football in his career, which averages out at 11 full 90-minute games each season he has been a professional footballer.

In the 2009/2010 season, when he was 19, he missed 15 games due to a knee problem.

Fast-forward four years to the mid 2010s (2014-2016) and his knee troubles came back again and forced him out of 41 games for Arsenal, leaving him on the sidelines for 276 consecutive days.

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Three months after returning from his knee problems he suffered another knee injury, which put him out for 238 consecutive days, meaning he missed a further 29 games for Arsenal.

His most recent big injuries came in November 2018, when an ankle problem put him out for 200 days and meant he missed another 41 games for Arsenal, bringing his time at the Gunners to an abysmal end.

Welbeck then signed for Watford as a free agent in the 2019/2020 season, buut he soon picked up a hamstring injury which put him out for four months. Then the coronavirus pandemic lockdown came into effect.

His other weakness, which is quite worrying for a striker, is his goals per game returns.

The striker's career in number is as follows:

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Premier League: 224 appearances, 44 goals scored, which is a goal every five games

Champions League: 24 appearances, seven goals scored, which is a goal every 3.5 games

Europa League: 17 appearances, five goals scored, which is a goal every 3.5 games

League Cup: 25 appearances, six goals scored, which is a goal every four games

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Championship: Eight appearances, two goals scored, which is a goal every four games

Career total: 331 appearances, 73 goals scored, which is a goal every 4.5 games

Conclusion

I see this as Brighton taking a relatively low-risk punt on a player during the coronavirus crisis who could find inspired form and his natural ability to help provide the Seagulls with a different dimension to their attack. I think on this basis it probably is a no-brainer to bring him in terms of risk vs reward.

But actually looking at Welbeck as a player, I don't think he's going to do much on the pitch. His goal returns is poor, his injury record is long and unfortunate, and he is about to turn 30-years-old (which is old for a footballer).

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I'd be happy to be proved wrong but I don't think this gamble will pay dividends.

Prediction: There are 33 games left of the season, Welbeck averages 11 games each campaign, he scores one in four games, so I'd say he'll score three goals for Brighton in the Premier League this campaign.

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