Brentford manager Thomas Frank has conceded that Ivan Toney will likely depart in the summer.
The 27-year-old striker bagged 20 goals across 33 outings for the Bees in English football’s top division last term before serving an eight-month FA ban — which ended last month — after being found to have breached their betting rules.
Toney, who Brentford value at £80m, sees his present deal at the West London club expire in June 2025.
No player has scored more direct free-kicks in the Premier League since the start of last season than Ivan Toney:
◎ 10 shots from direct free-kicks
◉ 3 goals from direct free-kicks
Back with a bang. 💥 pic.twitter.com/RNTUMUrR6s
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 20, 2024
Since returning to action, the Northampton-born marksman has made three Premier League appearances, netting two goals, including against Nottingham Forest in his comeback.
Brentford ran out 3-2 winners but since then have suffered back-to-back losses against Tottenham and Manchester City despite opening the scoring in those games.
A wanted man, head coach Frank was under no illusion of a stay beyond this campaign, especially with Toney having one year left on his contract.
“It’s quite obvious that Ivan Toney will most likely be sold in the summer,” he told Danish magazine Tipsbladet.
“It can be expensive to sell your best player, but on the other hand, I also know that by the summer, he’ll only have a year left on his contract with us.
“We also know what he’s worth. I don’t think there are many strikers in the world who are better than him right now.
“He’s a really good striker who is in his prime footballing age. Personally, as a coach, I would prefer to keep Toney, but one day it could be fun to see him at a top team.
“This winter, we actually had no bids for him, but it would surprise me if there aren’t a lot of clubs interested in him.”
Should Toney make Arsenal transfer?
Chances are Toney will remain in London, with Arsenal and Chelsea expected to battle it out for his signature.
Both clubs have their pros and cons. But perhaps the most important factor is that Arsenal, entrenched in this season’s title race and barring an unforeseeable collapse, should offer Champions League football after this season.
Also, stylistically, Arsenal’s game suits the one-time England international. One strength of Mikel Arteta’s side is their wing play, which could bring out Toney’s link-up play and penchant for a through ball as well as his aerial ability. Only Liverpool (120) and Brentford (116) produced more successful crosses than Arsenal (112) this season. Elsewhere, in terms of creativity from central areas that any centre-forward would appreciate, Martin Odegaard himself has made the most through-balls across Europe’s top five leagues this season (21).
Toney’s ability in the air of course makes him a bigger threat on goal but at Brentford is so often used to create chances via flick-ons. He won more aerial duels than any forward in the Premier League last season, so often the target of David Raya long-balls when Arsenal’s current first-choice goalkeeper was at Brentford. This could make Martinelli and Saka even more deadly against high lines. As Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal drew against the Bees roughly a year ago, “If you put Ivan Toney against any defender in the league and you put 10 balls that are coming down with snow on them, he is probably going to beat them.”
The only ‘con’ or question mark for Toney is that at Arsenal competition for that ‘number nine’ role comes in the guise of Gabriel Jesus. However, the Brazilian can be slotted out wide to accommodate.
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What would Chelsea transfer offer Toney?
Chelsea have the (albeit somewhat diminishing) pull of Mauricio Pochettino, who previously coached Harry Kane — a player Toney was once likened to by Jamie Carragher.
A clinical marksman like Toney appears to be just what Chelsea need to change their fortunes. They have missed more ‘big chances’ than any other Premier League side this season (47), while their ‘big chance total’ (which includes penalties etc.) is actually higher than Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal — the second-most in the league behind Newcastle. Last season, Toney was one of just five players to convert over 50% of his ‘big chances’ (excluding those who take fewer than 15). How many other opportunities come along for a player to go into a big club in a bad moment with exactly the set of skills they miss most? He could also earn a bigger wage at Stamford Bridge; according to Capology, Chelsea’s highest earner is Raheem Sterling on £325,000 per week. At Arsenal, it is Kai Havertz on £280,000 per week.
However the elephant in the room is that it’s clear the West Londoners have yet to find an identity under Pochettino. This along with the probably lack of European football may give Toney pause, especially when Arsenal are the more settled team. As with Jesus at Arsenal, Toney would be competing with Christopher Nkunku or potentially Nicolas Jackson for that lead forward role.
Even if he does get the nod over Nkunku, there’s no guarantee Toney will be the side’s designated penalty taker, with Cole Palmer now flawlessly assuming those duties.
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