Arsene Wenger has a funny way of doing business in the transfer market. While a lot of managers like to sit in on negotiations, dotting the i's and crossing the t's, the Arsenal manager takes a different approach. Yesterday he spent the day in Rome, coaching a team in a cross faith tournament organised by the Pope (Wenger's team lost 6-3).
Meanwhile, while back in London Arsenal were racing against time to sign the striker they so desperately need having lost Olivier Giroud to a long-term injury last month.
Initially Arsenal fans hoped that player would be Radamel Falcao, the 28-year-old Colombian international playing for French club Monaco, but early on Monday Manchester United gleefully announced his capture on a season-loan long. So Gooners girded their loins and prepared for a day that grew increasingly fraught at the thought of Yaya Sanogo remaining their number one centre forward for the rest of the year.
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Rumours linking Arsenal to Danny Welbeck started to gather pace around lunch time although Tottenham remained favourites to sign the 23-year-old England forward from Manchester United on a £2m loan deal. But by late afternoon the Gunners were poised to sign Welbeck, The Guardian claiming his "preference was to go to the Emirates because of the Champions League football on offer". The paper also says that Arsenal wanted a loan deal for Welbeck but the player was "interested only in a permanent move".
With all that agreed, just the paperwork remained but that went down to the wire with the last forms "being processed with the Premier League after the 11pm deadline". But it went through OK and a few hours later the official Arsenal website was able to declare that "everyone at Arsenal welcomes Danny to the club and looks forward to his contribution in an Arsenal shirt this season".
Though Arsenal didn't discuss a fee on their website, the Daily Telegraph claims that the Gunners paid United £16m for Welbeck and the player – currently on England duty ahead of tomorrow night's friendly – "has signed a five-year contract worth an estimated £115,000-a-week".
Welbeck's signing will make life easier for Alexis Sanchez, one of five Arsenal players signed in the summer, as he continues to adapt to the Premier League after arriving from Barcelona. But with Theo Walcott close to a return after nine months out with a knee injury, Arsenal now have the makings of a dangerously quick strikeforce, particularly if Mesut Ozil can rediscover his form and feed the frontline from the midfield.
The Telegraph claims that the United board "had not initially wanted to sell Welbeck to a direct rival" but the £150m spent by Louis van Gaal in recent days forced them to accept Arsenal's offer as they look to keep on the right side of Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations.
Rene Meulensteen, who nurtured Welbeck at United during his time as Alex Ferguson's assistant, said the move was good for the player and his new club. "I think he is the sort of player who can really strengthen Arsenal," said Meulensteen. "I have known Danny since the age of eight or nine. I saw him come through. He is not an out and out goalscorer. He is a link player, he is a creator, he is unpredictable. He is still young. I think if he is in the right team, with games, he can score more goals."
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