• Premier League

Welbeck imagined Arsenal before

ESPN staff
September 3, 2014
Is Welbeck a shrewd bit of business?

Danny Welbeck admitted he has long been drawn to the idea of playing for Arsenal after he "finally" got his his deadline-day move to the club from Manchester United.

Welbeck, 23, joined Arsene Wenger's side on Monday in a £16 million deal after six years in United's senior side, but the striker said he had watched the north London club with envy during his time at Old Trafford.

23: The not so lucky number

Nicklas Bendtner sits on the Arsenal bench © Getty Images
  • Danny Welbeck has joined a dubious list of former Arsenal players after taking the No.23 shirt.

    The striker has been handed the jersey previously worn by Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin after his £16 million deadline-day move to the Emirates from Manchester United.

    Welbeck will hope his time in the shirt is more successful than the two players before him. Both Bendtner's and Arshavin's spells in the shirt were characterised by ineptitude and a lack of effort.

    Out-of-favour Bendtner left the club this summer after securing a three-year deal with Wolfsburg, while Arshavin returned to Zenit St. Petersburg in 2012 after claiming he nearly suffered depression through long spells on the bench at Arsenal.

    But Welbeck, who came through the United academy system, is not the first Old Trafford youth product to take the No.23 after leaving the club. David Beckham took the number when he joined Real Madrid in 2003, claiming it was a tribute to basketball legend Michael Jordan.

"It's great to be a part of this club and it's a team that I've always watched in the Premier League," Welbeck said. "I've envisaged myself playing in this team before. For it to finally happen is very exciting.

"I believe the style of play the manager's got and the boys play and with the magnificent players in midfield slotting balls through, I can run on to the end of those balls and slot them away."

Welbeck, who came through United's famed youth system, risked being frozen out if he stayed at Old Trafford as new manager Louis van Gaal brought in big-money signings such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.

It has been claimed his sale shows United's identity has been "broken" as they attempt to spend their way out of trouble after finishing seventh in the Premier League last season and starting slowly under Van Gaal.

But Welbeck, who will wear the No.23 this season, suggested he has no regrets about leaving United, claiming instead he was ready to show Arsenal fans what he could do.

"It went right down to the wire in the end," Welbeck said. "It's difficult to say how I felt at the [different] times of each day because the deal was on and then it was off but at the end of the day I'm an Arsenal player and I couldn't be any happier at the moment.

"I'd like to bring pace and power to the game. At Arsenal, we're not short of combination football and I like to join in on that and get in behind defenders and try to get shots off at goal. I want to score some goals and help the team to achieve the right results.

"I've been at United ever since I was a little boy and I had a great time there. I just think this is the next stage of my development - to come to Arsenal, to really show people what I can do as a footballer and hopefully get to the place where I want to be.

"Things move on in life and you've really got to make the right decision in the situation that you're in at that moment in time. I really do believe that coming to Arsenal is the right decision."

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