Brentford striker Ivan Toney has left Arsenal fans snapping at his metaphorical heels after sending a message to former teammate David Raya on Instagram. Raya, who made his debut for the Gunners in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park, played for three years with Toney before moving this summer.
The pair were both key to the Bees getting promotion into the top flight in 2021, leading Thomas Frank’s charge towards the play-offs with an end-of-season run of 12 games unbeaten. Raya kept 16 clean sheets in his 42 matches that season, his second after moving from Blackburn, whilst Toney smashed in 33 goals with 10 assist during his first and only Championship campaign.
Now, with Raya rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the league, there are some who hope to see the duo reunited once more. Even though Toney, banned from footballing activity until January 2024, wouldn’t be able to play for any new team it hasn’t stopped the top teams from circling.
Arsenal, who have Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah as their striking options, have been linked with a move for the 27-year-old as they seek to add another layer of depth to their squad. Against Everton, also selected alongside Raya, was Nketiah after he kept impressing before the international break.
Jesus, who is still on his way back to full fitness following an injury that saw him miss the start of the season, came off the bench in the second half having featured for Brazil during a fortnight away. Toney, however, is a completely different type of striker.
Used to being the focal point of a direct Brentford side, Toney is excellent in the air but has top-level control when under pressure and is more than capable of playing with his back to the goal as well as with space in front of him. His form before the FA ban had seen him bag 20 goals for Brentford last year.
It has led Chelsea to be amongst the sides chasing him into the winter as Brentford approach a key juncture with his contract. Much like with Raya, who had just 12 months left on his deal before Arsenal swooped in to sign him, Toney will be entering the last year of his deal if he remains at the club until the summer.
That reduces the power held by Brentford and potentially could see his huge price tag drop. Frank, who has been bullish about the chances of his player leaving up until now, has said that he is worth ‘£100million ($124m) plus.’ It’s unlikely that a player like Toney would move for that amount and now Arsenal fans have been doing their bit to convince the player to move.
After Toney commented two heart emojis in response to Raya’s Instagram post, supporters flocked to the replies. ‘January move?’ simply quizzed one. Another wrote: “Super Toney, Gunners family.” It’s not the first time that fans have made their feelings clear towards the England international either.
It is now a common sight to see Arsenal fans in his replies. Last week one wrote to him, asking “Ivan what are the ODDS that you’ll join Arsenal?” Another was slightly more enthusiastic, manifesting a move: “We are waiting for you at Arsenal. January let’s go!”
The Gunners certainly have a long way to go with this if they are to get a deal over the line either in January or the summer of 2024 but the links with Raya can’t hurt. As for the Spanish ‘keeper’s future, he is now attempting to hold down competition from Aaron Ramsdale to become No.1.
He is on an initial loan move across London but with the chance to have it become permanent if certain gametime related criteria are hit. When asked about his decision to start the 28-year-old at the weekend ahead of the club’s first Champions League game in six years, Arteta said: “It’s something that has been historically done like this, but I cannot have two players like this in one position and not play them. David has tremendous qualities like Aaron has, like Karl [Hein] has, but we have to use them you know.”