Ivan Toney’s return from an eight-month suspension for breaching the Football Association’s betting rules is fast approaching, with Brentford fans waiting for their hero’s comeback with bated breath. However, there’s a feeling the 27-year-old won’t be plying his trade at the Gtech Community Stadium beyond January after Arsenal and Chelsea set their sights on him.
January 17 is the due date for Toney’s return to competitive action. But he may not be on the Bees’ payroll by then if intense speculation about his future turns into a reality.
Despite being sidelined since May, the English striker’s poacher’s skills remain in high demand.
Meanwhile, England boss Gareth Southgate refused to rule out the possibility of including Toney in his Euro 2024 squad.
Whether he stays or goes, the former Newcastle United frontman must hit the ground running once his suspension expires to bolster his chances of boarding a plane to Germany.
Arsenal must address their centre-forward issues amid Gabriel Jesus’ injury-hit start to the season and Eddie Nketiah’s problems with inconsistent performances.
However, if Todd Boehly’s early reign is anything to go by, Chelsea won’t resist the temptation of luring the Brentford talisman to Stamford Bridge, even if it’s only to dent their rivals’ plans.
Let’s see why it would be in Toney’s best interest to choose the Gunners over their fellow London adversaries.
Chelsea’s lavish spending in the post-Roman Abramovich era has not paid off. In fact, the club’s notorious fall from grace has turned them into the Premier League scapegoats.
Every move the Blues make is under the microscope as if the media waits for them to make another mistake so they can gloat and nail culprits to the cross.
The last thing Toney needs after going through the hell of betting charges that have tainted his public image is to get stuck in a troubled environment, constantly tormented by the media’s prying eyes.
Unlike Stamford Bridge, the Emirates Stadium would provide a safe shelter now that Mikel Arteta has saved the sinking ship and laid the foundation for Arsenal’s renaissance.
Chance to develop on-field understanding with Saka & Rice
Unless highly unexpected developments throw a spanner in the works between now and the end of the season, Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice will be among Southgate’s most trusted allies at next summer’s Euros.
On that basis, joining Arsenal would offer Toney a perfect opportunity to get to know the two England stalwarts and boost his international prospects.
Rice and Saka have been central to the Gunners’ decent start to the new campaign, while they continue to play influential roles at the national team.
For an established Englishman with a genuine shot at international glory, it’s essential to surround himself with his peers.
And with Jesus unable to stay away from injuries and Nketiah blowing hot and cold, Toney would probably be Arteta’s first choice in the front third.
Better title prospects
Not long ago, putting Arsenal and trophies in the same conversation would’ve made people laugh, but times have changed.
Despite being unlucky to be caught in the era of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Arteta built a solid case for the Gunners last term.
If this season’s early exchanges are anything to go by, Arsenal ought to stay in the title frame until May, and a potential addition of Toney can only consolidate their quest to end City’s dominance.
As for Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino’s capacity to reshape the squad that faltered last season and started off on the wrong foot this year is unquestionable, yet this process takes time.
Unfortunately for Toney, time is not a commodity he can afford after being cast away for so long, especially with the Euros waiting around the corner.
At 27, he is at his peak powers and deserves a team that aspires to reach the ultimate goals.