Paul Merson has suggested that Arsenal need to sign a quality striker to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The Gunners finished second in the league last season behind Manchester City, and have bolstered their squad during the summer, adding Declan Rice from West Ham on a club-record deal.
However, Merson suggests that the Gunners need a proper centre-forward and feels Ivan Toney should be an ideal target. While the Gunners have remained undefeated so far, they have dropped four points already, while City have picked up six wins in a row.
The Gunners managed a 2-2 draw against north London rivals Tottenham last week. They missed several clear-cut chances during the game, and it highlights once again the dire need for a potent finisher.
Mikel Arteta has the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus as two strikers at his disposal, but Merson says that neither of them is capable of taking Arsenal to the next level.
He has hailed Toney as a “dying breed”, suggesting he is the “only” option the Gunners have at the moment if they want to sign a decent striker in January.
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.”
“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.”
Another big-money signing?
Arsenal managed 88 goals last season in the Premier League, only Man City scored six more than them.
Merson is spot on here. Nketiah is a decent option, but he doesn’t look like the one who can actually inspire the side to challenge for the title. The same can be said about Jesus.
Toney has been with Brentford since 2020 and he is a key player for them. He managed 33 goals in his first season and played a big role in taking the Bees to the Premier League. He has been impressive ever since and managed 21 goals in 35 games last season.
According to Evening Standard, Brentford are expected to demand a fee in the region of £80m for Toney, with Chelsea also in the race for his signature.
He has a contract at the club until 2025, but Brentford are looking to offer him a new deal, as per The Athletic journalist, David Ornstein.
We have seen already that Brentford are hard negotiator (the David Raya situation comes to mind) and it won’t be easy to lure Toney to the Emirates.