In Depth

Welbeck: Arsenal say 'when in Rome', but Neville confused

Wenger lifts the lid on how he signed the striker, but former United legend says deal is strange

Since his move to Arsenal Danny Welbeck has barely been out of the headlines. His £16m deadline day switch from Man United to the Emirates divided opinion among supporters of both teams, and his two goals for England secured victory over Switzerland on Monday night. Now Arsene Wenger has lifted the lid on how the Gunners managed to sign him, while his former United team-mate Gary Neville, now an England coach, has expressed bewilderment over the deal.

Arsenal boss Wenger revealed that the Gunners originally wanted to sign Welbeck on loan but settled for a permanent deal as the transfer window started to shut.

He also insisted that his decision to leave the country on deadline day actually helped push the deal through. Wenger spent the day in Italy coaching an all-star side for a 'Peace Match' in Rome, a move that angered many Arsenal fans who were perplexed by his apparent indifference to the end of the transfer window.

"Wenger, though, is adamant that his departure was a help, rather than a hindrance," reports The Times. His 6am trip to Italy meant he knew about United's deal for Radamel Falcao before his rivals and was able to get the Welbeck negotiations underway.

"If I had stayed at home, he would not have signed. That is the truth," said Wenger. "I had to get up at six in the morning and so I was available the whole day.

"At the moment they bought Falcao, I thought they had to let somebody go... At the start, he was only available on loan, but when he became available to buy, I agreed."

He added that he believed the 23-year-old would prosper at the Emirates and that his "best position" was as a striker through the middle. However, he refused to say whether he would start as centre-forward or even be in the team against Manchester City on Saturday.

Welbeck for his part is looking forward to playing as striker, says the BBC. He explained that while at Man United, "I wasn't playing too much as a striker and I had to worry about my defensive work". But he added: "Once I get the opportunity and a run of games up front I will do my best."

Meanwhile, United veteran Gary Neville, who now coaches Welbeck with England said he was mystified by United's decision to sell the player.

"I thought the Danny Welbeck sale was a strange one," he told Talksport. "I can't work it out. After all the prices I've seen paid this summer and, obviously I've been working with him the last week, I'm thinking: 'How is it just £16m?'

"There's been right-backs and left-backs galore who have been bought for £15m, £14m, £13m this summer. How have they got him for £16m? I can't work it out to this day. It really does feel strange that it's a centre-forward and actually it's helped out a competitor, someone who will be vying for those third and fourth places with United this season. I'm struggling to understand the logic behind the deal in two or three ways really."

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