World Cup 2014: 'Frustrated' Danny Welbeck ready to use the Brazil tournament as shop window

Reports emerged at the end of last season that he wanted to leave United

There is a long pause. “I’d rather not answer that question,” says Danny Welbeck.

The Manchester United striker has been asked to clarify his future at Old Trafford after a season that ended in reports he wanted to leave the club, followed by the arrival of a new manager in Louis van Gaal.

This enigmatic answer leaves Welbeck’s future as opaque as ever, but one thing is clear. When he takes the field for England this summer he will be in the shop window, on display for the new shopkeeper as well as any potential buyers.

In Brazil Van Gaal will be coaching the Dutch, potential quarter-final opponents for England, and Welbeck added: “I’m pretty sure he will be watching. In the World Cup I want to make sure I show my quality. I’m quite confident in my ability that I can do what needs to be done.”

It became clear towards the end of last season that Welbeck and David Moyes were not on the same wavelength. The change in management should augur well for the 23-year-old as Van Gaal has a reputation for bringing on young players. However, with Robin van Persie likely to be made captain, and Wayne Rooney having signed a new £300,000-a-week deal earlier this year, Welbeck’s chances of leading the line would appear limited. And that is where he wants to play.

 

“I’d like to play central,” he says. “I’ve been playing on the left for a while and it’s got to the time where I want to stake a place up front. It does get frustrating. You want to be playing in a certain position and you’re not getting the opportunity to do that.”

One ray of hope is Van Gaal’s preference for 4-3-3. “If you are playing on the left of a four-man midfield there are a lot more defensive duties to do so you can’t find the times to keep attacking. But if you’re on the left of a 4-3-3 I find that position really good as well. If I was to play on the left I’d rather play there if there was three in midfield.”

That is the formation he has often found himself in for England, and it seems to suit. Welbeck scored nine goals in 25 league games for United last year, his most productive league season despite the club’s travails, but he is notably more deadly for his country.

“I wouldn’t say I play better for England, but my goals-per-game ratio is definitely better,” he says. “With three in midfield and three up front there’s a bit more defensive cover rather than me being that defensive cover.

“For United I’m more likely to be left wing of a four-man midfield with only two centre-mids, so it’s a bit more difficult for me to maybe make those runs to get in and score those goals when I’ve got to think about my defensive duties as well. Maybe I’m kind of let off the leash a bit more for England than United.”

Welbeck’s frustrations at United did not end with his playing position, He was also ‘surprised’ to be criticised by Moyes for not training enough. 

“I was pretty surprised to be honest. I’ve grown up at Manchester United and been professional all through my career and I always do extra work. It’s born-and-bred in me to do extra work after training and maybe he wasn’t seeing that extra stuff. He did come out with that statement, but before then I was doing extra training and maybe he just didn’t see it.”

Welbeck has continued that approach with England, working out during his end-of-season break in Dubai before joining up with Roy Hodgson’s squad.  “I felt it was important to keep ticking over in the week off,” he says, “a lot of players did. I did a few sessions and it’s worked out pretty well.”

Like those Manchester United team-mates who also made the cut Welbeck clearly sees Brazil 2014 as a second chance to get something from a disappointing campaign.

“We’ve just got to put [last season] behind us and focus on the World Cup and try to do our best for the country. We’ve got an exciting squad with lots of talent in it, but [also] with a lot of experience to mix and blend. We are going into the games wanting to win and we’ll see how far that takes us.”

International football is increasingly regarded as second-tier compared to the club game, notably by Arsene Wenger, but given a choice between the World Cup and the Champions League Welbeck does not hesitate. “It is the World Cup. It is the stuff that all kids want to play in. You dream of it as a kid and one of the bonuses is that it is in Brazil and I grew up watching them in World Cups. It is an exciting place to go and we are looking forward to it.

“I liked Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo. - all the Rs. It was Ronaldo’s goals, he used his strength to beat defenders and score, then there was Ronaldinho’s ability to glide past players.”

Did he have any Brazilian shirts?

“No,” says the boy from the Longsight, south Manchester, “always United.” Which underlines what a wrench it would be for him to leave should he and Van Gaal not envisage a future together.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor