Should reported Spurs target Danny Welbeck be allowed to leave Manchester United before the end of the transfer window and decide to join Tottenham Hotspur, he will likely come into the side as our first-choice left-sided option. He works harder, and has better levels of production, than Nacer Chadli, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend, and would probably fit right into the pressing system Mauricio Pochettino favours. What's not to like?
The problem with this potential deal, for me, is not strictly Welbeck's ability. Or at least, not his ability when considered in a vacuum. Purely assessed on his individual merits, I think Welbeck would be an unglamourous but solid addition to this current team- one who would fulfill that time-honoured criteria of 'doing a good weekly shift' desired of all rotation option-types.
What I'm rather more concerned about with this deal is the potential for mismatching expectations. Strip the three years of first-team football with United, the 26 England caps and the fumbled backheel international goals away from the United forward, and retain the hunger to start and excel that you'd imagine Welbeck has, and you're left with what looks like an attractive transfer prospect. Put them all back on, however, and it's doubtful that you're left with a player who would accept the place at Spurs that I really think he should occupy.
Let's imagine that Welbeck's wages sit at around £80k per season, that we sign him on a four-year deal, and that the fee is something in the region of what Hull City offered to United for his services recently- £12m. That's a £7m per-year FFP hit for Spurs. Does it really seem reasonable to be dropping those sorts of sums on a player we've ascertained would be in the side to 'do a shift' week-to-week? I know a fair few people would argue the hit is worth taking if the squad ends up improved, but in this particular instance I wouldn't really count myself in that camp. Alternatively, is it likely that Welbeck would be prepared to shave off up to a quarter of his wage package just to get first-team football at a club like Spurs? I struggle to see how you could argue 'yes' to that question as well.
Then there's the question of whether Welbeck would be happy playing the same left-wing support role that he occupied at United. When your main opponents for the line-leading role are Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, that sort of squad status might be easier to swallow. At Spurs, however, there's every chance that Welbeck might fancy reclaiming his old role as the spearhead of the side, rather than simply serving as a guy who provides 'industry' and 'shape' on the left. Though I buy Welbeck as our best option out wide, I certainly don't see him as an outright first-choice central striker- not least if Harry Kane, our current third-choice option on account of his age and experience, is currently putting up better expected-goal and assist numbers than him. Again, I don't think the reality of how we should be viewing Welbeck matches up to where he probably views himself right now in this regard.
On paper, Danny Welbeck would be a perfect incomer to this side as a squad player. In reality, it's going to be almost impossible to get him to the club on the kind of financial, contractual and tactical pretexts that accompany that status. For me to be happy with this deal, United would have to take a below-the-odds fee, Welbeck would need to take a big pay cut, and the industrious left-sided role would have to be one he'd be content to play for the years ahead. I think the chances of all of these three criteria being met are rather slim. For that reason, on balance, I'd be happier if Pochettino and Franco Baldini cast their net still wider whilst looking for new recruits over the next few weeks.
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