Unai Emery may have found a radical solution to Arsenal’s left-back conundrum after revealing England forward Danny Welbeck has been training in the role.
The Gunners welcome champions Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday for Emery’s first competitive game in charge since he replaced Arsene Wenger in May.
Welbeck has been linked with a move away from the Gunners for much of the summer, despite forming part of Gareth Southgate’s squad which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.
The 27-year-old has struggled for regular football in recent times, either because of injury or the form of other players – with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan passing him in the pecking order.
Welbeck’s ability to operate in a number of different roles within the attack has sometimes worked against him when it has come to nailing down a specific position.
But he has now even been tried out as a defender under new head coach Emery as both Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac will miss the visit of Pep Guardiola’s men, with the former Paris Saint Germain boss pleased by Welbeck’s flexibility.
“Danny Welbeck is one of the players who has a multi-position possibility,” said Emery.
“Right winger, left winger, striker, and also yesterday he worked with us at left-back – his performance was good! I like this spirit. To help positions across the team with positive spirit.”
Emery insisted on Friday that Welbeck is not one of the players who would be free to leave before the European transfer window shuts at the end of the month.
The Spaniard has said goalkeeper David Ospina, defender Carl Jenkinson and forward Joel Campbell will be allowed to seek a new club – but went on to challenge Welbeck to shine this year.
“I said to him when he arrived with us after the holidays, I want the best performance in his career from this player – and to work for that,” Emery said of the former Manchester United man.
“(We will be) helping with his quality and also getting better with his quality and his data in this year. More goals, more assists. Working to help when we need quick pressing against the opposition.”
“For me it’s clear. Yesterday the transfer window closed and our players will stay with us.”