Should Arsenal place a £60m bet on Ivan Toney?

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Yesterday, we explored the possibility of Arteta and Edu making a bold move for Napoli’s VIctor Osimhen. It’s the international break, after all, so there’s little to do but to engage in idle gossip. That said, a move for Brentford’s Ivan Toney might amount to something more than idle gossip. He’s Prem-proven, and our dealings with Brentford over David Raya have been amicable enough to suggest that they might be open to selling Toney…at the right price.

Unlike Osimhen, who might be more of a Haaland-esque type forward (albeit without the goal-scoring…), Toney embodies a more-modern forward’s role: he presses, he drops deep, he distributes. In many ways, he’s closer to Jesus’s style of play than Osimhen due to his versatliity and willingness to make himself available. The key questions around him focus on his gambling, his fitness, and his fee.

By most reports, Toney earns a relative pittance at Brentford, something on the order of £20k/wk. Still, one would think that this should be suffiicient that the lad wouldn’t feel the need to gamble to make ends meet, and Toney’s eight-month ban points strongly to a gambling addiction. It’s not as if he needs to win big in order to pay bills or put food on the table. If we were to make a move for the man, some kind of counseling would surely be necessary.

While we’re talking money, let’s talk fees. While we dealt amicable with Brentford to get Raya, we played a bit of three-card monte by agreeing a loan-deal with an option to buy that we’ll almost certainly exercise. What does that mean for a move for Toney? Could we prise him away on a £50m fee, or would we have to again get creative? If Napoli might be open to a deal that involved Gabriel Jesus, perhaps Brentford would be open to a deal that involved, say Nketiah, Nelson, or Smith Rowe? Even if it feels like apostasy to even suggest such a move for one (or more) of our academy players, none of them has caught Arteta’s eye, despite injuries forcing him to get creative with lineups and substitutions.

Back to the man at hand. Toney is a considerable aerial threat despite standing just 1.85m (6′ 1″). It’s one area where he’s clearly superior to Jesus. This makes him a serious threat in the build-up as he can win duels and knock down long balls (from his old mate Raya, no less) as players like Martinelli, Saka, or Havertz run past. He’d also be a novel threat to our set-pieces. He could reprise a role similar to the one he’s played for Brentford before his ban.

He’s an aggressive presser when his side are out of possession. While he may not be as effective or as aggressive as Jesus (who might just be one of the best pressers in the Prem from his position), he’s adept at winning the ball in the final third and at pressuring keepers and defenders into poor decisions, leading to turnovers or at least throw-ins.

Despite all of these advantages, the questions loom: has Toney learned his lesson when it comes to gambling? What kind of shape will he be in by January, having not played a competitive minute since May 2023? It’s hard to feel like he’d hit the ground running even if a transfer deal could be agreed on the first day of the transfer window. Who knows where his mind is at, much less his body?

Then again, these doubts could reduce his fee and wage demands. It’s always hard to find quality talent in the January window. Toney, a Prem-proven known quantity (at least on the pitch), could be a priceless pickup. Unlike Osimhen, he doesn’t carry a reputation for being a narcissist, and he’s not cup-tied in the Champions League. If Arteta can help Toney manage his gambling predilections (or addiction), we could secure the services of a fairly prolific forward…

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6 thoughts on “Should Arsenal place a £60m bet on Ivan Toney?

  1. Palladio43

    Between all the comments by your reader-followers made yesterday in favor of Toney and all those you make today, it seems there no negatives to such a move except for fitness and the gambling addiction
    Fitness may be a problem in January but I assume that the purpose is for a longer run and not just for one half season. As to gambling, I would think, whether via Gamblers Anonymous, his family, agents, friends, and club, he may be, has, or will overcome this addiction.
    This, the only drawback is how to make the deal, how much to offer, and how to overcome all the other clubs that want him

    Reply
    1. Jon Shay Post author

      to be honest, I’m more worried about his match-fitness than any apparent gambling addiction. He’s on notice for the latter, and he’ll have something to prove for the former. We won’t need him to lead the line from the off; there would be time for him to bed in behind Jesus and [suppresses gagging sounds] Nketiah. Even if he were only making 45-60 minute appearances, that might be enough to reduce the pressure on Saka (see Saturday’s post…) and allow us to play others on the right wing.

      Reply
  2. jw1

    Without feigning it’s my idea, I did read a similar piece yesterday, calling for Arsenal not going in for Toney– but for his teammate Bryan Mbuemo. The unconventional wisdom being we don’t necessarily need a target man like Toney, whose style cuts against the grain of Arsenal’s attacking approach. Instead, try to replicate what works best in Arteta’s system, in finding a near knock-off of what Gabriel Jesus provides up front– insuring against Jesus’ possible absence through injury, while also tempering his minutes with a like-for-like substitute.

    Mbuemo might be all that.

    Reply
    1. Jon Shay Post author

      That’s an intriguing idea, and our dealings with Brentford over the Raya transfer have been positive enough to suggest that they’d be open to some kind of deal, whether it was for Toney or Mbuemo. On one hand, I like the idea of Toney as a more-traditional target man for Raya’s long-range passes (something they’d be reprising from their days together at Brentforrd). On the other, Mbuemo would offer something more simliar to what Jesus offers if on a somewhat lower level. Stuck in the middle would be Nketiah. Could we offer him to Brentford in order to reduce the fee for Toney or Mbuemo? Hmm…

      Reply
      1. A Simple Truth

        The only reason anyone would suggest such a thing is because they feel that MA is so stuck in his ways that having a Striker on staff seems almost immaterial, which is an indictment on his one(ish) trick pony managerial predilictions…we simply have to be more tactical fluid, as we will never possess the horses required to force our style on each and every opponent, especially at the highest of levels

        Reply
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