Why Arsenal transfer for Ivan Toney is a no-go due to his ‘feud with Gunners stars’ amid desperate search for striker

WHAT do Arsenal need to even get close to Manchester City again?

Because it feels harsh, but fair, to state that Mikel Arteta’s team are more likely to finish fifth than first next season.

GettyArsenal are likely to fall just short of the Premier League trophy[/caption]

Arsenal are a young team under a young manager, who are only likely to improve.

They led the Premier League for the vast majority of the campaign and provided a thrilling challenge to Pep Guardiola’s champions only to be comprehensively outplayed by them twice.

Yet Newcastle’s Geordie Arabia revolution will certainly become mightier still.

Manchester United’s sale can strengthen Erik ten Hag’s squad.

Liverpool, with a midfield refurb, will surely become more consistent and, under Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea will be back in the mix.

Villa and Brighton are excellent teams on the up and, who knows, Spurs might even find the right manager to compete.

OK, maybe that last one sounds a bit far-fetched but you catch my drift — it’s going to get tougher.

Arsenal will upgrade their midfield with Declan Rice or Brighton’s Moises Caicedo.


And a better back-up centre-half than Rob Holding or Jakub Kiwior is also essential because the injury to William Saliba has cost them dearly.

But is that enough to challenge City again? It’s doubtful.

No, Arsenal need an elite centre-forward. And those are not easy to come by.

It is not that the Gunners have been light on goals, their Premier League total of 83 is well clear of anyone other than City, and they have four players in double figures — Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus.

With ten goals in 24 league games, Jesus has done reasonably well. But  Arsenal’s collapse coincided with the Brazilian’s return from a long-term injury and when Arteta threw the dice at 1-0 down to Brighton on Sunday, he hauled him off.

Jesus, a serial title winner at City, is a fine player. He can operate on the wing and, in 2020, he was man of the match as a wing-back in a Champions League victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

But there was a reason that Pep Guardiola did not often employ Jesus at centre-forward, even when he did not have another specialist option.

Jesus is not an authentic, focal-point No 9. Indeed, No 9 might not even be his best position.

GettyArsenal are unlikely to sign Ivan Toney[/caption]

AlamyHarry Kane is another top forward that would not sign for Arsenal[/caption]

The sickener for Arsenal is the best two oven-ready Premier League centre-forwards, Harry Kane and Ivan Toney, are unavailable to them.

It’s weird that Kane to Chelsea is a possibility but Kane to Arsenal isn’t. Spurs’ rivalry with Chelsea is — in the boardroom and dressing room — more bitter than with the Gunners.

But even though he spent a season at Arsenal’s academy, Tottenham’s all-time top scorer would not ‘do a Sol Campbell’.

And Brentford striker Toney, who would improve Arteta’s squad, is a non-starter.

Firstly, he has a lengthy ban for breaking betting rules hanging over his head — and how ridiculous is it that Toney’s punishment remains on hold months after he admitted multiple offences?

Secondly, Toney has a very real, on-going feud with Arsenal’s players fuelled by a series of social media posts.

Toney’s ‘Nice kickabout with the boys’ tweet, when Brentford defeated the Gunners in August 2021, has been returned by Arsenal players more than once and Toney has called their responses ‘cringeworthy’.

Away from the Premier League, the pickings are slim.

GettyVictor Osimhen seems out of reach for the Gunners[/caption]

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen is the stand-out but, even if the Nigerian leaves this summer, he would surely be beyond the Gunners in terms of finances and status.

Look around Europe’s major leagues and there is no other obvious ‘next Erling Haaland’.

The top two scorers in LaLiga, for example, are 35-year-old Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski, who turns 35 in August.

Lautaro Martinez, of Inter Milan, is a target for Pochettino’s Chelsea but in Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad he was second choice to Julian Alvarez,   Haaland’s back-up man at City.

That is what Arsenal are up against.

They are competing with the best squad, the best manager, the best scorer in the world, financed by a nation-state accused of bending rules.

So here is a prediction to be filed under ‘I really hope I’m wrong here but…’

Arteta’s Arsenal have already blown the best chance they will ever have of winning the title.

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