Welbeck, 31, has been troubled by injuries this campaign but has regained his form and fitness at just the right moment.
The striker’s class has never been in question but the main issue since his arrival on a free transfer in 2020 is getting his body – and hamstrings – to a point where it can withstand the rigours of the Premier League.
The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker had been written off by many after his injury-hit spell at Watford. Graham Potter and Brighton took an educated gamble and brought him to the Amex to add experience and guile to the attack and – similar to Adam Lallana – to show an example to the younger players.
After all, Welbeck grew up at Manchester United and has 42 England caps with 16 goals and represented his country at major tournaments.There is much to gain from having Welbeck in the squad but he also has to deliver consistently on the pitch in the Premier League.Last season he made 24 appearances and netted six times which was enough for Brighton to offer him another year – despite the fact he had issues with his hamstring.
In September, his troublesome hamstring went ping once again during a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
It was a worrying time for the striker who must have feared for his career. An athlete at the highest level needs to be able to rely on their body and Welbeck’s, for all the work he was putting in, kept breaking down.
He was booked in for further surgery and embarked on rehabilitation once more and made his comeback on Boxing Day when Albion recorded a 2-0 home win against Brentford.
His head coach Graham Potter was delighted to have him back and said at the time his striker looks fitter and stronger than before. Welbeck’s confidence was high and he followed that match with a last gasp headed goal in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.
He netted once more in January in the 1-1 draw at Leicester but then, along with the rest of the team, struggled to make an impact as Potter’s team went on a six match losing run.
The international break following the 2-0 home loss against Tottenham provided everyone with chance to reset. At that stage, it appeared Welbeck could have been in the final stages of his Albion career. His contract was up in the summer and many fans were looking towards next season when the attack will be enhanced by Deniz Undav – the prolific German striker who signed in the last window but remained on loan at Union SG.
Welbeck and Brighton however refused to let their season fizzle away and he has played in seven of the last eight games and scored and assisted twice in his last four matches.
His expertly taken goal against Leeds was a reminder of prowess and clinical edge that only few strikers possess. Welbeck maybe reaching father-figure status – as demonstrate by his recent Instagram post about Tariq Lamptey – but strikers can easily play deep into their 30s. Ronaldo, Jamie Vardy, Robert Lewandowski and even Albion’s Glenn Murray played at the highest level and adapted and improved.
Welbeck’s end of season run shows he can still cut it. He looks fast, strong and that finishing touch will never leave him.
Albion would have to pay millions to land a striker of his natural talent and without his injury record, he would still be at a top six club. A new contract is a risk but one worth taking.
Speaking after the Leeds match, Potter said: “Danny’s been great for us, on and off the pitch. He’s fully fit and enjoying his football, he’s a top player and I enjoy working with him.
"I’m pretty sure he’ll be with us next year.”