Arsenal accelerate seach for striker after Welbeck Injury

By Daily Sports on May 12, 2016

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Arsenal will accelerate their search for a new striker this summer after Danny Welbeck was ruled out for the European Championship and most of next season with a ruptured knee cartilage.

In a devastating set-back, Welbeck’s worst fears were confirmed following a scan to his left knee on Monday and, after already missing most of this season with an injury to his right knee, he now faces another nine months in rehabilitation.

England manager Roy Hodgson had been resigned to Welbeck missing the European Championship ever since the first assessments of the injury on Sunday but the full extent of the cartilage damage has still come as a shock.

It is also a massive blow to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger after Welbeck had returned so positively in recent weeks following 10 months out with his previous injury. Welbeck had scored five goals since his comeback in February, including winners against Leicester City and Norwich City, before suffering this latest injury during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Manchester City.

Welbeck had been earmarked as a starter in Hodgson’s England team this summer at Euro 2016, with his injury now likely to give an opportunity in the squad to either Andros Townsend or Theo Walcott. Hodgson, who is also waiting on the fitness of Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, will name his 23-man England squad on Monday.

The severity of Welbeck’s injury will also have implications for Arsenal’s transfer window. Wenger had been minded to give Welbeck the opportunity to establish himself during pre-season in his preferred central striker role after Olivier Giroud and Walcott have managed only five league goals between them in 2016.

 

Arsenal were still monitoring other strikers, with Juventus’s Alvaro Morata, AZ Alkmaar’s Vincent Janssen and Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi among the players being scouted. Wenger has also been made aware of the likely availability this summer of Paris St Germain talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although the Swede would have to accept a significant pay-cut to get even close to Arsenal’s current wage structure. As a longer-term prospect, Arsenal are also interested in 20-year-old Lille striker Sehrou Guirassy, who is currently on loan at Auxerre in France’s Ligue 2.

Wenger had been tempted to assess his existing options this summer before deciding on whether to definitely add another striker for next season but the loss of Welbeck until at least next February will force a serious rethink and places a new urgency on the situation.

Arsenal’s planning would be further complicated if Walcott, whose recent opportunities have been limited, or Sanchez, who left the ground immediately after being substituted against Norwich City recently, asked to leave.

It is the final year of Wenger’s own contract and his own Arsenal future is likely to depend next season on mounting a lasting title challenge.

Arsenal had already been prioritising the spine of their team this summer and are now close to an agreement with Borussia Monchengladbach on a potential £30 million deal for Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka that, with add-ons, could rise to around £35 million. Wenger wants to conclude the Xhaka deal as early as possible this summer after deciding that the 23-year-old would be a better fit in his team than Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante, who is understood to have a £20 million release clause.

There has been interest from Arsenal in Kante but there is a sense that he is less suited to Arsenal’s more possession-based philosophy than Kante, who has been so outstanding this season in Leicester’s extraordinary Premier League victory. Xhaka is also a defence-minded midfielder and would be competing either for Francis Coquelin’s place or could give Wenger the option of playing two holding midfielders for certain games. He also still has Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in central midfield but Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini will leave at their end of their contracts this summer.

Arsenal confirmed Welbeck’s knee surgery in a statement on their website. “Specialists determined surgery was required after scans and tests revealed significant cartilage damage,” said the statement. “Danny will miss the Euro 2016 Championship in the summer and his full recovery is expected to take approximately nine months. Everyone at Arsenal will be working hard with Danny throughout his recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the pitch as soon as possible.” (telegaph.co.uk)

Photo shows injured Danny Welbeck

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 12, 2016

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