The topic at hand has sparked vigorous debate within the loyal Arsenal fanbase, and even broaching the subject feels somewhat risky, akin to the potential transfer of Ivan Toney to North London.
Undoubtedly, a player who has netted 32 goals in the past two Premier League seasons will garner considerable attention.
However, amidst the fervor surrounding his potential move, a crucial aspect appears to have been overshadowed.
Rumors of the England international’s link to Arsenal have persisted since the summer, even preceding his suspension. This interest remains, with numerous clubs eyeing a potential January exit from Brentford.
In a different context, a couple of years ago, when discussing Toney’s current status, enthusiasm from a footballing perspective might have been more pronounced.
Arsenal’s signings aimed to secure a return to and establishment in the Champions League, with players like Gabriel Jesus arriving from Manchester City, and this goal has been largely achieved.
Nevertheless, Arsenal’s next challenge is to narrow the gap with treble winners Manchester City, aiming to win the league themselves.
Thus, the question arises: If Gabriel Jesus is deemed inadequate for this task, why should Toney be the solution?
This is where the argument for signing Toney falters.
He does not represent a significant upgrade over the Brazilian, let alone an avenue to close in on the likes of Erling Haaland.
Haaland’s elite caliber should be the target for Arsenal’s next move, or at least a player with the potential to reach that level, whereas 27-year-old Toney is unlikely to do so in his prime years.
Mikel Arteta’s system demands more from a center-forward than just goals, making Jesus a stylistically perfect fit. Last season, Toney’s non-penalty goals and assists per 90 statistics were 0.55, compared to Jesus’ 0.7, while Haaland boasts 1.2, more than double Toney’s, according to FBRef.
Claims that Toney would improve in an Arsenal side surrounded by better players do not hold up.
Leandro Trossard, for instance, has remained as impactful at Arsenal as he was at Brighton, despite the superior quality of his teammates, thanks to Arteta’s influence.
Then there’s the matter of the price tag, which has fluctuated between £60 million and £80 million this week. This sum seems excessive for a player who, in my view, has not yet attained elite or world-class status.
So, who is the alternative? The list of elite strikers is not long, and most of them are either unavailable or already at top clubs.
Victor Osimhen seems a compelling option, with recent issues at Napoli possibly paving the way for his exit.
However, the price tag may well exceed £100 million, a reflection of the current market for world-class talent.
Alternatively, Arsenal could seek a player whose potential suggests they can reach elite status, surpassing Toney’s current level while also elevating the existing options.
Benjamin Sesko at RB Leipzig, having emerged from the Red Bull Salzburg development pipeline, is a name to watch.
In my opinion, it would be wise to wait until the summer to assess the striking options.
Rushing into a deal for Toney in January may yield short-term success, but it could prove difficult to displace him in the squad, as Arsenal discovered this past summer.
Furthermore, it’s important to emphasize that if Arsenal does proceed with the signing of Toney, Mikel Arteta’s track record in the transfer market has been commendable, despite initial doubts raised after the arrival of Kai Havertz.
Every player donning the red and white should be backed to succeed, regardless of individual opinions on the move. I, for one, hope that Ivan Toney proves me wrong sooner rather than later.