Welbeck - Overrated or the Real Deal? | Stats

Welbeck - Overrated or the Real Deal? | Stats

With Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United future becoming more uncertain by the day, this could give Danny Welbeck an opportunity to move up the striking options and establish himself at the Premier League champions for years to come, but the jury is still out whether he can cut it at the highest level of club football.

Every so often you get a player who splits fan’s opinions as some claim he’s good while others declare he’s one of the worst players to grace the league; currently that player is Danny Welbeck.


The young forward constantly has his goal record scrutinised by fans, especially after his inclusion in the England Euro 2012 squad, and after scoring only 2 goals in all competitions last season you can understand why. Welbeck, who started the majority of games out on the left wing last season, had an appalling shot accuracy of 38% and a chance conversion rate of an incredible 4%.

For someone who is billed as a striker at Manchester United those are shocking figures, but Welbeck has never really been a prolific goal scorer throughout his career. The added competition of Robin Van Persie may have had a factor last season (he scored 9 goals in 30 league appearances in 2011/12) as Welbeck would have attempted to score from more difficult positions in desperation as he fought for a place in the starting XI. His conversion rate before the signing of the Dutchman was 16%, which is only slightly lower than Rooney’s conversion rate was in 2012/13 (18.2%).This doesn’t specifically mean Welbeck is a bad player or isn’t improving as a footballer though.

In modern football, strikers are not judged solely on goals anymore as contribution to the team has become an important aspect, with high pressing and work rate by forwards being adopted by the top teams in Europe to huge effect – Bayern Munich and Barcelona being set up like this in the past few seasons to help them to win the Champions League. This is one of the strong points that Welbeck offers Manchester United.

The England International played a number of different roles last season and showed his defensive contribution to the forward line in all, especially when played out wide or behind the striker (which the system at Old Trafford see’s the player drop back into midfield to help offer protection).

The height and strength that Welbeck possesses gives United option when defending and attacking corners, whilst his aerial ability fits perfectly with the system of wingers that Manchester United have used for years. The forward’s work rate also sees him press the defence and force defenders and midfielders to either make mistakes or dispossess them – something Welbeck did every 22 minutes on average last season.

Many will say that Welbeck has been played out of position, which to an extent he has, but he is well equipped to play on the left wing as his pace and work rate can used to effect both attacking wise and defensively, such as allowing the defence and midfield to catch their breath and regain their positions – this was especially against Real Madrid in the Champions League away tie last season when Madrid began to dominate possession and force United further back.

However, Danny Welbeck’s best football has come when played as the main striker leading the line – a position played during the 2011/12 season successfully both at club and international level. His ability to hold up the ball and distribute it to an advancing team mate successfully is impressive and allows the team to break at speed. Passing is a main strength of Welbeck’s, with a pass completion rate of 87% recorded last season, which can be explained by the young forward keeping play simple. Only 16% of his passes went forward last season as Welbeck played the ball short to teammates back to midfield or the wide players before advancing into the box to get onto a cross or through-ball.

Welbeck’s poor finishing and lack of composure in front of goal will continue to be used against him though if he doesn’t improve and could have a bearing on his career. The next couple of seasons are extremely important as he looks to become either top striker playing in the Champions League or a main striker for mid-table Premier League side.

Despite a difficult season Welbeck still possesses huge potential as a footballer, but being a good team player will keep him his place in Manchester United’s squad for so long before the club decide to bring in a more equipped forward and it is clearly evident that improving his finishing will determine how his career pans out.

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