Ivan Toney to Arsenal – transfer breakdown

An in-depth tactical analysis on why Arsenal should bring the English Tailsman Ivan Toney at the Emirates

By afcaarush
13 Min Read

Arsenal have been linked with a move for Brentford’s Ivan Toney, with him being mentioned around the club for a while now. There are speculations about Arsenal loving his profile and would have been all over it if not for the betting regulations that he failed to follow and is facing a ban for. Although with the ban lifting in January, Toney’s contract with Brentford not for too long, complemented by the good relations between both the clubs – there are reports that a transfer in winter is viewed as a possibility by all the three parties.

Toney, recently spoke out on Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast – tagging Arsenal as one of the sides he would want to play for. The dream might just become a reality.

As the high-quality viewing on the legal soccer steams, this is a transfer rumour that has multiple degrees of outlook – and in this article, we get down to Ivan Toney as a player, what he brings on the table, and a few speculatives onto why he would fit in at Arsenal with the team around him.

Firstly, let’s look at Ivan Toney’s player profile:

Age : 27
Club: Brentford
Position : CF
Nationality : English
Value : £35M
Height : 5ft 10

Ivan Toney is a terrific text book striker known for his finishing and goal scoring ability. He can score from any angle with any part of his body with his head at the back post which is his speciality at the front post or anywhere in and around the box. His instinctive nature makes it easy for him to create shooting options for himself.

Toney is a very attractive prospect out in the market, very worthy of a player of Arteta’s type. Arsenal should go all hands on him considering his lower fee compared to different possible targets.

Very often you see him ghost into spaces unmarked in the box which puts him at the end of the easiest of tap ins, he uses his body really well. His natural ability to get into spaces through intelligent movements make it easy for him to get behind the ball. His ability to protect the ball in the final third that combines with his terrific timing of his releases and actions and his contribution to his teammates are also first class, and so is his off the ball work in the defensive side is very underrated, in fact his shots blocked, ball recovering and touches in the defensive third and penalty area numbers are some of the best in the world. 

Toney has a certain gravity to him, which attracts defenders due to his reputation, and provides his teammates with more time and space to receive the ball. Toney’s excellent link of play could be a reason why he’s on Arsenal’s radar. Toney has the appropriate understanding of when and where to drop deep to help his team progress the ball when required. Toney usually occupies the space between the 2 CBs and plays off their shoulders.

What sets Toney up to the elite bracket, with a skill only the top strikers possess, is his awareness of everything that’s going on. Not many forwards have this level of composure, to stand still and look around whilst being surrounded by numerous defenders.

Looking at his aerial duels won, you know he has a commanding presence with a strong aerial threat. He’s a well built and nurtured striker who holds onto challenges really well with his strong frame, and draws lots of fouls. 

image credit fbref

Toney could prove to be a huge physical upgrade on this Arsenal side as he’s very much able to win first balls. With his previous Brentford mate Raya joining Arsenal, they have their own connection and he could provide a constant aerial threat. This was their main progression route in the PL, winning 4.86 aerial duels per 90. Ivan often makes runs and has that finishing touch to make off a successful move. He’s also able to lose his man before scoring which makes his movements elite. His goal scoring ability is not under question. Although he scores mainly from his right foot he scores from vast array of angles and possesses a balance in ball striking and finishing. Toney’s defensive work rate out of possession is very advantageous to any team. He’s very smart when it comes to pressing and manipulating the opposition.


Aggressive: Toney is very aggressive in his game, as much as it benefits his team it also sometimes is a downside. His aggressive personality leads him to committing needless fouls and gathering plenty of yellow cards. This needs aggression can hurt the teams high press if Toney consistently gives away needless fouls.

Reckless Passing: Although Toney’s distribution has a high ceiling, he’s yet to reach a consistent elite level. Occasionally under/over hitting simple through passes into spaces. This can obviously be improved

Long Shots: Toney’s ball striking is not a question to ask for. His ball striking is above average. It’s the decision making around long shots that can be a certain weakness, especially when a team needs to break a low block.

Out of most of the options in the market, Toney fits the best because he can revolve in this team. Arsenal wouldn’t have to change their game to accommodate him. Arsenal also don’t look like they are built for a 9 dependent on created chances. We’ve already seen it with Jesus. Adding Toney to the mix is like he gives you almost everything you want from a typical poacher. Physicality, central presence, aerial threat, work rate, linkup/holdup play, playmaking, ball striking etc. He’s really efficient on goal and hardly misses his chances. He’ll be very useful against low block teams

Toney is a Premier League proven player, he knows the league which means he needs little or no time settling down. He’s shown what he can do whilst playing for Brentford. 

image credit Opta

Most premier league goals scored by English players since the start of 21-22.


In comparison to Jesus:

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Ivan Toney has been quite an outlet for Thomas Frank at Brentford, and that Raya-Toney connection can come vital as an option to get the ball through.  In terms of finishing, Toney is second to none in the Premier League, and that also unlocks an option to play alongside Jesus – something Toney has been doing with Mbuemo, when needed. It’s evident that Arsenal are eyeing for a striker who is a  menace in terms of finishing but also an aerial threat when it comes to winning the duels. 

What we should also know is that Toney means Gabriel Jesus can also act as a back-up at RW. Arteta isn’t already doing Eddie CF & Jesus LW/RW for no reason. Toney’s elite playmaking, physicality & aerial threat in combination with everything Jesus offers from the LW/RW raises our floor & ceiling dramatically.

Jesus makes our attack look and function better without being its primary output. He spent a lot of time outside the box creating chaos and attracting players. His numbers meant that our wingers and #8 could be top scorer’s.

Gabriel Jesus heatmap for Arsenal in the 2022 23 Premier League season
Ivan Toney heatmap for Brentford in the 2022 23 Premier League season

Ivan Toney bagged 21 Goals and 5 Assists in all competitions last season. He’s certainly an upgrade on Eddie Nketia and Toney also raises the level of Arsenal at some level. Signing Toney will give Arsenal a strong Plan B. We have players around who can make him have a successful spell at the club. Toney has come up through the ranks of a certain level of experience in the English game and Arteta may want to add this to his schoolboy-esque team.

Arteta’s recruitment in recent times has been more profile based rather than performance based and Toney fits right in there.

How would he fit in?

Toney could start as the 9 alongside two wingers who stretch the width of the pitch, the Arsenal way. In build up he can force the CBs backwards to create spaces for other players .

When we do go long as a result of the opposition press, he can offer smart pressing, aggression, physicality and aerial threat to ensure we regain possession or even sustain it. He drops deep and hold up play too, which can be seen as a strength as he can find a teammate with his excellent distribution. He’ll certainly provide more threat in the box to convert cutbacks, crosses and opposition mistakes.

Out of position, he can lead the press along with Ødegaard behind him closing the opposition down.

Arsenal could at times play both Jesus and Toney together, on paper Toney as the CF and Jesus as the RW (to give Saka rest). Toney functions as the ‘Target Man’ and Jesus as the ‘Runner’. Could be a very decent option for Arsenal if they are unable to build up short. Raya’s long balls would come handy.

Gabriel Jesus could also function as Arsenal’s second striker next season with the licence to roam around. A short man tall man dynamism with Toney in front of him. Toney signing can indirectly get us a quality winger too.

The prospect of Kai Havertz at SS or also as an AMF would improve with the signing of Toney. Both of Toney/Havertz aerial presence and hold up play can complement each other perfectly. Kai Havertz statistically also was the best forward in the air last season.

Ivan Toney is a player tailored to our system. Toney would be elite for the things we buy him for. In the end it all depends on what Arteta wants and what skillet in particular he sees and wants in a player.


Ivan-Toney-Arsenal-lineup Toney-Arsenal-lineup How-Arsenal-lineup-Ivan-Toney

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