When he suffered a season ending right ankle injury, it was presumed that Danny Welbeck would not play again for Arsenal. His contract expires in the summer, and Arsenal had never really bothered opening contract extension talks. Welbeck, who turned 28 in November, will recover at the club, and then presumably carry on the final steps of rehabilitation elsewhere during the summer. Yet, there is perhaps an argument for giving Welbeck a contract extension, even at this stage.
Arsenal are going to operating with limited transfer funds, though the final amount will be unknown until it’s known whether Arsenal qualify for next season’s Champions League or not. Arsenal will be going into this summer needing a new centre back, a new back-up right back for Héctor Bellerín, perhaps a backup goalkeeper if Arsenal decide to move on from Emiliano Martinez, a midfielder to replace Aaron Ramsey, and perhaps even a new left back even if Monreal’s contract option has been triggered. This is already a huge task, and one Arsenal may crimp on, because of funds. Another addition to the shopping list would presumably be a wide player, either Denis Suarez, or someone else.
In addition, by letting Welbeck leave, Arsenal will need another striker. Arsenal have two excellent strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, yet both often start. There is a need for a backup striker, just in terms of starting other, less important games, and for injury cover. With Welbeck’s injury, it would be hoped that Eddie Nketiah would get a chance to impress, but he’s played a grand total of 269 minutes; it’s unlikely he can be the experienced cover that Arsenal would need, nor has he shown an ability to play wide.
Welbeck’s ability to play wide, as well as his work-rate and strong defensive play makes him a strong squad player, even if he isn’t a clinical finisher. It’s a role that Arsenal have a need for; without Welbeck, Arsenal have only had two real wide options in Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Even with the addition of Denis Suarez, and the return of Reiss Nelson next season, there’s a need for a player in Welbeck’s role: someone who, when playing wide, can make runs into the box, giving Arsenal another attacking threat.
Any contract extension for Welbeck does not necessarily have to be a long-term one; it could be a two or three year contract, enough to give Welbeck some security as he returns from injury and also give Arsenal some value protection. Welbeck is an England international, and would count as a home-grown player. Homegrown strikers carry a high transfer fee: Dominick Solanke cost Bournemouth somewhere in the region of £20m pounds, as did Danny Ings for Southampton. Neither Ings nor Solanke have a great scoring record or a great fitness record, yet both earned Liverpool a decent amount of money. Arsenal could both more smartly utilize their resources in the summer and earn money in the future by revising their decision and give Danny Welbeck a contract extension.