Everton have moved ahead in the race for Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck, according to the Evening Standard, as the England international prepares to hit the market as a free agent.
Welbeck joined the Gunners from Manchester United back in 2014, but was never able to hold down a regular starting role at the Emirates under Arsene Wenger. He has also been unable to display his talents to Unai Emery for much of the campaign due to surgery on a serious ankle injury sustained in November.
The 28-year-old is back in full training in North London, though, and is expected to travel to Azerbaijan for next weeks Europa League Final against Chelsea, having scored a hat-trick in a behind-closed-doors match last week.
Given his wealth of experience for club and country, having someone of Welbeck’s calibre hitting the transfer market unattached has attracted the interest from numerous sides. Along with us, West Ham United, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all expressed an interest, while unnamed European sides are tipped to have presented their case.
Welbeck, however, would prefer to stay in England, and is keen to move to a side that has aspirations of competing in the Champions League. To which the Evening Standard understand has put us in pole position.
What may have helped our position is that the Standard claim we are willing to increase his current £100,000-a-week contract if he were to join the club this year, so long as he passes what will be a rigorous medical.
It is also thought Theo Walcott’s presence in Marco Silva’s dressing room has proven attractive to the 42-cap Three Lions international. But what the forward, who featured just 14 times in the season just gone, wants more than anything is the guarantee of first-team minutes as he eyes a place in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad.
From Welbeck’s 14 club outings across all competitions, the Manchester-born winger come centre-forward scored five goals and recorded one assist, for a minute per goal strike rate of one every 121 minutes.
The Gunners’ number 23 also played five key passes in his 148 minutes of Premier League action.