Ivan Toney: Brentford’s striker performances show his readiness for a top-club transfer

If there’s one thing the Premier League is known for, it’s incredible carry jobs by talismanic strikers. We’ve seen it with Alan Shearer, Rooney, Erling Haaland and Ivan Toney.

Yes, we’ve finally reached a point where putting Toney in this group doesn’t sound strange. This season, he’s scored a whopping 18 goals in 28 appearances, all while a sports betting controversy hangs over his head. 

This has also paid off for the Bees, as they’re currently sitting in 9th place. Even Thomas Frank publicly praised Toney, citing his laser focus in training as a big factor. 

But all that attention has brought up the question — is Ivan Toney set for a big club transfer sometime soon? Let’s take a look at his career, accomplishments and what the future holds. 

From Northampton to England National Team debut

When you look at Toney’s Wikipedia page, his career path isn’t that of a typical Premier League star. He wasn’t a part of any Big 6 academy, didn’t make his PL debut as a teen, and wasn’t valued at £100 million.

As a Northampton native, Ivan started playing football at Northampton Town, where he made his first-team debut in 2013 at 16 and became the youngest debutant in club history. At the same time, he was wreaking havoc in the FA Youth CUP, even scoring a poker against York City. 

Slowly but surely, Toney was integrated into the first team and showed he was able to hold his own in League Two. In 2014, the Bees’ future star man really settled into his role. His goals were flying in left and right, which made him a known name amongst FA and PL clubs.

In November 2014, the Wolves wanted to sign him, but a failed physical foiled the move. It was unfortunate, but the striker would finally get his golden opportunity a year later.

Newcastle United took an interest in Toney and signed him in August 2015 for an undisclosed fee. Sadly, it was clear he wasn’t ready after a total of two appearances across all competitions. 

As a result, he spent the next three years on loan at Barnsley (twice), Shrewsbury Town, Scunthorpe United (twice) and Wigan. In 2018, Peterborough United became Ivan’s permanent home, and he repaid the trust by banging in 40 goals in 76 appearances. 

In 2020, he bolstered the ranks of then-Championship side Brentford. No one expected them to achieve promotion, but Toney’s surgical precision made him a true menace to defenders in the division.

And even after the miraculous promotion, Brentford has persisted in the Prem and can be considered an established side. 

But Toney’s absolute dream came true in March of 2023. After eclipsing 100 goals in the red and white shirt, Gareth Southgate rewarded him with an England call-up. And on March 2, he entered the EURO 2024 qualifier against Ukraine in the 81st minute, becoming a full England international. 

Toney’s scoring consistency keeps Brentford on high EPL seats

Nevertheless, it takes more than just a feel-good story to make a PL team successful. Aside from all the hype, Ivan Toney is one of the league’s most consistent strikers. 

That made him a common pick for the first goalscorer at British bookmakers. People often claim an exclusive betting deposit bonus by bookmakers.bet just to take punts on Brentford. 

And who can blame them, given that the Bees heavily rely on his performance. Whenever he doesn’t score or isn’t able to get things going, a draw or loss is imminent. 

A prominent reason why this is the case is his precision. In the 2022/23 season alone, Toney has an xG of 0.73, a 100+% increase compared to last season. But that precision goes beyond just goal-scoring opportunities. Toney’s positioning and frequent involvement in the team’s creative process are now more essential than ever. 

The average xG of the possessions he’s involved in is 0.58, which is excellent for a striker in a mid-table club. 

Another component of Toney’s proficiency this season is his improved positioning when taking shots. Looking at visual data, it’s amazing how he decided to forego many long shots, shots from the left and any attempt that doesn’t give him a clear angle at the goal. 

Of course, much of this has to do with Thomas Frank’s tactical genius, but it’s clear that Toney is using his mind more and putting himself in the best position on the pitch. Ivan is also a reliable passer, with 4 assists in 28 appearances so far this season. 

Despite Brentford being the up-and-up, the question about their star striker’s future remains. And as his performances are getting better, the elephant in the room is getting larger and larger. 

Will Brentford be able to maintain Toney in their squad?

In the Prem, it’s common for big clubs to snatch reliable strikers from mid-table teams. This begs the question — is Brentford able to keep Toney? At first glance, it seems like the issue is financial, but footballing reasons are also involved. There will always be situations like during the match vs Leicester City. No matter how hard Ivan fights, the Bees are still underdogs and have to consistently punch above their weight. This gets tiring, especially for strikers. 

As a result, Toney might be looking for an opportunity where he doesn’t have to carry the whole team on his shoulders. Again, he’s only on £21,000/week, which is criminally low for a player of his calibre. If he shows out in the remaining couple of games, clubs will likely be lining up to offer him upwards of £50,000/week.

However, there haven’t been too many rumours flying around, mainly because there still hasn’t been a decision on Toney’s sports betting-related suspension. Therefore, teams like City, United or even Chelsea might have to wait several months before he becomes available.

 But there’s also the other side of the coin. As the BBC reported in March 2023, Toney said the “hard work starts now.” This is in line with his humble and focused persona, which is another reason why he’s a hero to Brentford supporters.

He’s also shown signs of glory-hunting or money being his number-one priority. As a matter of fact, he might not need to. Brentford is solid and stable, which can be a good reason for Ivan to stay. Who knows, the Bees might even become the new Brighton at this rate.