Premier League • England

Arteta in dreamland as Arsenal push towards explosive January deal for 160-goal Prem star; Merson thinks he’s ‘a dying breed’

Mikel Arteta at the Arsenal training ground

Mikel Arteta at the Arsenal training ground

Arsenal are pushing themselves right to the front of the queue to sign Ivan Toney after making it clear to Brentford that they are more than willing to meet the striker’s £60m price tag, according to a report.

The Gunners have made rapid strides under the management of Mikel Arteta with the proof of that coming last season as the north London giants pushed hard for Premier League glory. Investing heavily across their side, Arsenal have spent some serious money on bringing in some of the game’s best young stars with signings that should see the club only get better in the months and years to come.

However, the one position they perhaps lack real star quality in is at centre forward. And while scoring goals has not ever been an issue for Arteta and Arsenal, they perhaps lack that ruthless streak in front of goal.

That shortfall was highlighted during Gary Neville’s co-commentary during Sunday’s North London derby draw with Tottenham. With a near-post corner being flicked on invitingly to the back post, there were no Arsenal bodies there to meet it and score what would have been a simple tap-in.

Pointing the finger at Eddie Nketiah, Neville bemoaned: “Nketiah has to be there, why is he not at the back post? It reminds me of Ian Wright, that was his old position, that’s such a big chance.

“How does he not smell, sniff, anticipate that one? He’s got to be there, that’s his job. Look at him, he has got to be flying at that back post and he’s late.”

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Arsenal ready to meet asking price for Ivan Toney

According to reports, that need for a deadly centre-forward is also shared by Arteta and his wish to sign a top-level striker looks set to be realised in January in the form of a move for Toney.

The once-capped England man is currently serving an eight-month suspension imposed for a breach of the FA’s betting regulations. However, he will be available to return to action in January, once that ban is complete. But with just 18 months remaining on his deal, Brentford have admitted that they will be willing to listen to offers for the 27-year-old marksman.

The likes of Tottenham and Chelsea have been strongly linked. But with Toney himself admitting Arsenal are one club he would like to join, and with the Bees reportedly seeking a fee of £60m, the Daily Mirror claims it is Arsenal who are pushing hardest for his signing.

And while Brentford are unlikely to compromise on their demands, Edu has reportedly recommended to the Arsenal board that his signing would be worth the required fee and give the Gunners that little extra they are lacking in attack.

The signing of Toney could see the likes of Nketiah, though in the main, Gabriel Jesus, sidelined somewhat. However, Arteta has shown he is prepared to be ruthless when it counts to take Arsenal to the next level, as recently illustrated by his decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale in goals with David Raya.

Discussing his side’s failure to be more ruthless in front of goal, Arteta stated recently: “We have to put the ball in the net more often, especially with the dominance we are having in games.

“But that’s the most difficult thing in football, so if you don’t do that, you have to do the other part, which is be extremely solid.”

Paul Merson wants Arsenal to sign ‘dying breed’ Ivan Toney

Now a move for Toney is next on the cards with the striker, who has 160 career goals to his name, seen as Arsenal’s No 1 January target.

Any such move to bring Toney to Arsenal will be welcomed by Paul Merson, who feels there are very few players in the world game who can do what Toney does.

Merson told Sky Sports: “I’ve always said it from day one – Eddie Nketiah is not going to win you the Premier League. You need a proper centre forward. I’m not blaming Nketiah because they drew 2-2 with Tottenham but with 32 games to go and all the Champions League games they have to play, I don’t think he takes them to the next level. I don’t even think Gabriel Jesus takes them to the next level.”

He added: “It’s alright sitting there and thinking: ‘they need a centre forward’ – but who is there? Only Ivan Toney is available for them in January – there aren’t many centre forwards around in the world. They’re a dying breed.”

Toney has scored 35 goals in 72 appearances since Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League in 2021.

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