Having nearly joined Glasgow Celtic last year, Ivan Toney instead signed for Brentford in the English Championship. Given the fact he is among the best forwards in the second tier and being linked with teams like Leeds and Arsenal, while Celtic meltdown and miss out on a tenth title in a row, the decision might feel a bit more justified today. Despite being available for a fee of around £8m last year, Toney had a black mark on his record: his success had come at third and fourth tier level.
And for every Jamie Vardy who can take to each step up with ease, there are forwards who cannot cut it at the next level up. As such, Championship clubs were believed to be hesitant on making a deal for Toney. Now, though, the player is being linked with starting prices of £30m – and if a bidding war starts, it could wind up well in excess of that price.
Leeds United have been linked with a move, with his aggression and link-up play being a fine fit for the Whites. However, it looks like if the bidding war that Brentford want kicks off it might be impossible to stay involved in the bidding. And with clubs further up the food chain like Arsenal being linked, might it be beyond Leeds to make the deal a possibility?
Do Leeds need Ivan Toney for next season?
The reality is that Leeds are relying on a single forward in Patrick Bamford to be the source of goals at central striker. However, the problem with this is that while Bamford has impressed hugely, there is no guarantee it can be repeated. He might find himself marked more next year, or that defences work him out. Can Leeds really hope that a striker who has impressed can continue to do so on his own?
Another forward is absolutely needed to help complement the team that is available. Leeds have a lot of quality in the first-team, and they are the kind of side that lacks depth as well as options from the bench. By being able to nab Toney, they would have another forward to pair-up or replace Bamford. However, would they be able to make the deal happen?
It is hard to say, as Leeds ownership have been ambitious in the previous summer window. With the hope that next year will have even more revenue coming in thanks to fans returning, there is the belief that Leeds could spend even more in a bid to keep stepping forward as opposed to standing still.
The same questions remain about Toney, though. He has stepped up Championship level with consummate ease, but taking that next step again is a huge issue for many strikers. However, the argument could be made that most said the same thing about Bamford, and he has been immense for Leeds.
Either way, it looks like, want or not, Leeds will need to pay a premium to land Toney.