Danny Welbeck joined Watford in the summer of 2019 looking to rejuvenate his faltering career. There was a general feeling that Welbeck and Watford were a good fit for one another. The Hornets were entering their fifth Premier League campaign in succession, looking to push on from an 11th place finish and an FA Cup Final. Welbeck was looking for a place to prove he still had the ability and, more importantly, the robustness to compete at the top level.
Welbeck’s Watford career started brightly; he scored a header in the league cup and looked sharp in early matches against Everton and Sheffield United before a hamstring injury sustained at Tottenham Hotspur saw him ruled out for several months. Welbeck came back into the team after Project Restart and scored one of the goals of the season with a bicycle kick against Norwich City. Despite his best efforts, Watford were relegated on the final day after losing 3-2 to Welbeck’s former employers Arsenal. A nightmare season for club and player.
In his time at Vicarage Road Welbeck showed his best and worst qualities. A keen eye for goal and a terrible habit of picking up injuries. Welbeck made it clear he did not want to play in the Championship, and Watford said they would not stand in his way should an offer come. An offer never came. Paying even a nominal fee for Welbeck was a gamble not worth taking for a top flight club. With Watford looking to trim the wage bill, Welbeck’s contract was terminated by mutual consent.
Days later, Danny Welbeck signed a one-year deal with Brighton and Hove Albion and now finds himself in the familiar position of having to prove his worth after joining a stable Premier League club.
Does Danny Welbeck still have it in him to complete a full season of Premier League football? The evidence would suggest not. The first seriously long layoff of Welbeck’s career came in 15/16 when he missed 30 games after requiring knee surgery. 3 months after returning to football, Welbeck suffered cartilage damage and spent a further 238 days on the side-lines. After returning in January 2017, Welbeck missed a further 53 Arsenal matches through injury before his eventual release in 2019.
Whilst Welbeck may not be capable of playing a full season, Graham Potter will have likely drafted him to fill the boots of a veteran striker who moved the other way in the summer window; Glenn Murray. Murray was often used as an impact sub on the south coast, but at 37 years old is not quite having the impact he used to. Welbeck will be seen as an upgrade on Glenn Murray and represents a better fit for Potter’s style of play. As a squad rotation player, Welbeck is a good signing which Brighton fans will greet with cautious optimism.
After a turbulent season at Watford, which saw three different managers hired and fired, Welbeck will be hopeful that the Amex can offer a calmer environment more conducive to the revival he so desperately needs. In turn, Brighton will hope to see more of the sparkling moments Welbeck is capable of.