Danny Welbeck Will Reportedly Leave Arsenal on a Free Transfer at End of Season

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 08: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal looks on  during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Arsenal and Sporting CP at Emirates Stadium on November 8, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Arsenal will reportedly decide against offering forward Danny Welbeck a new contract, paving the way for the striker to leave the club for free in the summer. 

According to Gary Jacob of The Times, having withdrawn a contract offer to Aaron Ramsey recently—his deal is also set to run out at the end of 2018-19—the Gunners will follow suit with Welbeck.

The England international joined Arsenal from Manchester United in 2014, agreeing a five-year contract. While he's had some highs with the Gunners, overall Welbeck has been inconsistent, and he is sidelined with a long-term injury picked up against Sporting CP in the UEFA Europa League last month.

"Arsenal are supporting Welbeck through his rehabilitation and are hopeful that he will be fit enough to return before the end of the campaign, but they are not prepared to offer him a new contract as an incentive, as they have done in the past to injured players such as Santi Cazorla and Abou Diaby," said Jacob.

It's noted by Jacob the thinking behind not offering the likes of Welbeck and Ramsey fresh terms is to free up funds on the wage bill. The extra space in the squad could also present opportunities to the likes of Reiss Nelson, who is thriving on loan at Hoffenheim this season.

Welbeck reportedly had interest from Southampton in the summer, although he decided against making the move. Crystal Palace are also said to be keen on signing the 28-year-old.

Per James Benge of the Evening Standard, the Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has already spoken about the possibility of bringing in a replacement for Welbeck in January: 

James Benge @jamesbenge

Sanllehi confirms Arsenal are prepared to enter the January market if right option emerges to fill Welbeck void. Pavon and Pepe (latter would likely be very expensive mid-season) among the players they have been looking at. https://t.co/5ZfrzJtycF

Despite the injury, James Dodd of FOX Sports noted at the time how much manager Unai Emery seems to like him: 

James Dodd @JamesDoddFOX

You get the impression that Unai Emery really rates Danny Welbeck. Big decision for club now what with his contract up at the end of the season and a serious looking injury on the cards. Surely he’s worth a new 2yr deal? #AFC

Although the arrival of players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette last season pushed Welbeck down the pecking order, before his injury layoff there were some signs that the forward had a role to play under Emery.

Already this season the England striker has scored five goals, with two in the UEFA Europa League, two in the Carabao Cup and one in the Premier League. Welbeck has tended to start in the former two competitions in a number of different roles, making him a useful option to have in the squad.

But given the form of Arsenal's attackers, the seriousness of the injury and the fact the club don't appear keen to retain the services of Welbeck for the long term, there may not be many more times we see him in a Gunners shirt again.