The 22-year-old signed for Arsenal from Fluminense in 2011 after they had scouted him at the U17 World Cup, the same tournament they had found Damian Martinez and Ryo Miyaichi. Silva was impressive alongside a 17-year-old Neymar, both looking like the future of Brazilian Football.
Wenger had expected to be able to include his new signing in the squad via a special talent visa, but the FA denied the application and left Arsenal without a work permit for the exciting youngster. No choice was left but to loan Silva out until he could be granted a permit. Unfortunately, this meant the Brazilian would be banished from London for 4 years, drifting around the top two Spanish leagues, trying to gain experience.
The tricky winger completed five loan spells in Spain, starting at Levante, before moving on to Alcoyano, Ponferradina and Real Murcia. For a time, he seemed to have lost his way, often falling out of favour with the coaching staff, some even questioning his lifestyle and commitment. His last venture in Spain proved his most successful as he fought for Almeria in a La Liga relegation battle. Despite losing the fight, he was able to cement his place in the first team and show what he was capable of, earning rave reviews for his inventiveness and determination.
In 2015, Arsenal received the news they had been waiting for, Wellington was granted a Spanish passport, earning him a permit to play in England. As the summer came fans were curious to see how the Brazilian Youth International would fare in Wenger's plan. The pre-season came and went without the young forward featuring in any games. Just when it looked as though his time was over, Arsenal announced a new long term deal for the native of Rio De Janeiro.
On the 18th August, Silva joined Championship side Bolton Wanderers with a glowing recommendation from Wenger stating "He is absolutely stunning to watch and Bolton will be surprised by his quality." Three days later he made his debut for 'The Trotters' and looked lively and dangerous with every touch. Whilst Bolton have struggled so far this season, Silva was instrumental in their only win against Wolves, earning a penalty for the highly-rated Zach Clough to convert.
Bolton fans may have not seen much of him, but Silva has played all six games since his arrival and has impressed fans with his dribbling skills and directness, causing problems for his opposing full backs. Wanderers will be hoping the Brazilian can gel with the likes of Clough, Gary Madine and the returning Max Clayton.
Wellington appears in safe hands under Neil Lennon's guidance, Arsenal also has a successful history of loaning players to Bolton. Jack Wilshere was sent to Lancashire in 2010 and came back to North London ready for the first team. Others who swapped or shared the red and white in their career include, Benik Afobe, Fabrice Muamba and Nicolas Anelka who had successful goalscoring stints at both clubs.
Arsenal's history with South American footballers is not encouraging with only a few being able to be labelled a success. Gilberto Silva and Alexis Sanchez are obvious whilst Edu and Silvinho enjoyed good times. However, more have failed to meet the demands of English football with high profile cases such as Julio Baptista and Denilson springing to mind. The younger players have tended to disappear without so much as a sniff of the Emirates dressing room, Samuel Galindo and Pedro Botelho, to mention a few. Wenger has made public his great admiration for South American players, but does not seem to have much luck in developing them.
If Wellington can have a good season with Bolton and return to Arsenal a player ready for the physicality of English football, he stands a good chance of being an understudy to Alexis Sanchez. Dislodging the Chilean is a tall order and most likely impossible task, but being as modern football is a squad game, if he stays patient and focused, his opportunity will surely come. Arsene has shown his faith in Silva by presenting him with a new deal. If the Brazilian is able to fulfil his potential in the next few years, he will become very valuable to Arsenal and maybe once again appear alongside Neymar in the famous yellow shirt.