Smalling and Welbeck could quit Man United for north London moves
The Easter tabloids link Manchester United (8/1 to win next season’s Premier League) pair Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck with summer exits from Old Trafford, as north London neighbours Arsenal and Spurs are preparing to swoop for their services.
England international duo Smalling, 24, and Welbeck, 23, have failed to nail down regular starting spots at respective ends of the Red Devils XI under David Moyes, in what has been a difficult first season after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is weighing up a shock £13m swoop for Smalling, who he was keen to sign from Fulham in 2010, but the player chose United instead of a cross-capital switch.
Smalling is also appealing to the Frenchman because he can cover centre half and right back. Bacary Sagna is out of contract at the Emirates this summer, and several names, including Sebastian Jung of Eintracht Frankfurt, have been linked to Arsenal (10/1 for next season’s title).
Neighbours Tottenham, meanwhile, are targeting Danny Welbeck as the top-class striker they have been missing to fire them into the top four next term. They are unlikely to finish this season in a Champions League place this season, and are 50/1 outsiders for the 2014/15 title.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy may be encouraged in his pursuit of this player by strong speculation that Welbeck will weigh up his options over the summer. He has scored three more Premier League goals than Tottenham summer signing Roberto Soldado, and is more mobile.
It is understood that Welbeck has become frustrated with his roles under Moyes as an impact sub, or starting in a wide berth, however. He wants to play as a centre forward, but has Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez – another name linked with leaving United – as competition.
Welbeck has two years left on his current Red Devils deal, as does Smalling. Both players have recently incurred the wrath of Moyes, after being photographed on respective nights out in the wake of the Champions League quarter-final defeat by Bayern Munich and when injured.
Both Smalling (1/2) and Welbeck (1/6) are odds-on to be included on Roy Hodgson’s roster for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. The latter was joint-second top-scorer with Frank Lampard behind United teammate Wayne Rooney for England in qualifying. Welbeck is an 8/1 shot to be his country’s leading scorer at the finals.