Derby County’s comeback may have dented Brentford’s promotion hopes but last night’s game did little to persuade that Ivan Toney will not be a Premier League player next season.
The Bees striker put his side ahead inside the first 10 minutes by confidently sliding a penalty into the bottom corner, notching his 26th Championship goal of the season.
It looks as though Toney will not be short of suitors when the summer transfer window opens, with the latest reports suggesting that Arsenal and West Ham United are set to battle it out for the west London marksman.
The 24-year-old only arrived in the Championship last summer but will surely be a Premier League player next term – with or without Brentford.
The Bees are understood to value him at around £30 million but what exactly has made him so in-demand this season?
We’ve put a spotlight on his performances since he became part of Thomas Frank’s squad to assess just that…
Brentford’s ability to sell and replace attacking talent over the past few years has been outstanding but even so, losing Frank’s best two attacking threats, Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins, last summer looked like a tough blow to get past.
Toney’s stunning first season in the Championship has helped the Bees to do just that, exceeding the high expectations he set for himself at Peterborough United and dominating opposition defences week after week.
The 24-year-old’s durability has been hugely important to his new side’s success this term. He’s missed just one Championship game since joining the club and has played a mammoth 3458 minutes in all competitions already.
That has allowed him to be a near-constant presence in the final third this season and lead Brentford’s attack in remarkable style.
With 10 games left of the season, Toney has already surpassed Watkins’ tally of 25 goals from 2019/20. He has been lethal in front of goal this term, finding the net with both his head and his feet, and outscoring everyone in the division despite receiving worse service than other players.
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The Brentford man’s xG is lower than both Adam Armstrong and Teemu Pukki’s but he’s seven and five goals clear of that duo respectively.
Remarkably, Toney has taken significantly fewer shots per game than that duo – averaging just 2.42 – but he’s been excellent at converting attacking opportunities into significant efforts on goal.
That’s illustrated by the fact that he’s hit the target with 47.3% of his shots in all competitions and 48.24% in the Championship – the second-highest of anyone in the division.
All 26 of Toney’s goals have come from inside the penalty area but to label him as just a poacher would be wrong, he’s so much more than that.
The way he interlinks with his teammates and holds up play to bring others in has been fantastic and that’s highlighted by the fact that he’s provided nine assists this term – the joint-most in the division.
He’s also created 30 shot assists, averages 7.31 aerial duels per game at a success rate of 43.4%, and has drawn the fourth most fouls of any player in England’s second-tier (88) – illustrating just what a nuisance he is for opposition defenders because he can beat you on the ground, battle you in the air and deceive you with a pass.
In his first season in the Championship, Toney has dominated and showcased that he’s not just capable of doing a bit of everything, he thrives when asked to do just that.
His debut season looks likely to be his last and for good reason, as the 24-year-old is justifying the links to the Premier League.