Watford complete signing of free agent Danny Welbeck
Photo by Getty Images/Mike Hewitt - FIFA

Watford have confirmed the signing of Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

Welbeck began the summer without a club after his contract with Arsenal ran out at the end of last season.

However, the 28-year old has now put pen to paper on a three-year contract at Vicarage Road to become Javi Gracia's second major signing of the summer.

An impressive CV, but injury concerns glaring

The striker arrives in Hertfordshire with a track record that few Premier League strikers can match.

Born in Longsight, Manchester, Welbeck was briskly scouted by local giants Manchester United and had graduated into the first-team by his 18th birthday.

After loan spells at Preston North End and Sunderland, he returned to Old Trafford and became a regular performer before joining Arsenal for £16m in 2014.

During his time at both the Gunners and United, Welbeck claimed every major domestic honour available in the English game and also featured regularly for the national team, notching an impressive 16 goals in 42 appearances on the international stage.

However, his career unfortunately tells the tale of one ravaged by injuries. In total, recurring knee problems kept Welbeck out of action for over a year accumulatively between 2014 and 2016, while a broken ankle sustained in November was effectively the nail in the coffin of his Arsenal career.

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Welbeck's impressive track record when fit only begs the question of just how good he could have been without each lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Attacking options bolstered

Perhaps surprisingly, this is not a signing that Watford necessarily needed to make.

First-choice strikers Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu struck a blossoming and prolific partnership last campaign, while Andre Gray also ended the year in a rich vein of form which carried on into the squad's pre-season friendlies.

However, Welbeck represents a significant upgrade on backup options Stefano Okaka, Isaac Success and Adalberto Peñaranda, some or all of whom may still be loaned or sold before the international transfer window shuts at the end of August.

Certainly, Watford's new recruit will not waltz straight into the starting lineup at Vicarage Road, but he brings healthy competition to an ever-improving and cohesive group of Hornets forwards.

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A new chance to flourish

A key factor in Welbeck's decision to make Hertfordshire his new home was the opportunity to reunite with a couple of former youth teammates.

The striker knows both Tom Cleverley and Craig Cathcart well having graduated alongside the pair from United's academy.

"I know some of the boys already and they can't speak highly enough of the club," he said. "I used to live in digs with Craig and I've spoken to Clevs a lot. He said I'd really enjoy it here and think it'll be a great match for me to come here. It seems like a great club with the whole surrounding environment. It's a family-orientated place and that's something I value very highly.

"I've played against Watford and I like to watch football so I've seen them play on TV a lot and I know the team, and I think this is a place where I can really flourish. The squad we've got here is full of good players and and people who I'm really looking forward to playing with and trying to push to that next level".

Welbeck is the last person that needs any reminding of the impact injury has had on his career, but insists that he is ready to prove his worth again with the Hornets.

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"There's a lot more to come. I know that I've got so much more to show the Premier League. It's been frustrating at times but I can't just dwell on that and let that get me down. I'm focused on now and being better than I ever have been.

"I'm feeling really good and really strong, and I'm looking forward to this challenge ahead".