Paul Merson has urged Arsenal to target Brentford’s Ivan Toney in January to “take them to the next level” as their current striker options aren’t up to scratch.
The Gunners were pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City last season having led for the majority of the campaign, and hope to go one step further this season.
Their 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday means they’re already four points behind the champions after six games, and Arsenal’s attack has stuttered somewhat this season compared to last term.
Merson believes they need “a proper centre forward” if they want to go toe-to-toe with City, who have Erling Haaland scoring for fun, and reckons they should go after Toney in January, as he’s a superior option to both Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus.
“I’ve always said it from day one – Eddie Nketiah is not going to win you the Premier League,” said Merson.
“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.
“I was so confident that Arsenal would win on Sunday but when I saw the teams, I was majorly worried. Jesus on the wing, Nketiah up front, Fabio Vieira – I don’t think he’s good enough.
“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 was one of the best strikers in the Premier League last season as he scored 20 goals in 33 appearances for Brentford.
His form earned him his senior debut for England but his career has been put on hold after he breached the Football Association’s betting regulations.
The striker received a nine-month ban for his breaches and so is unable to play until January, when he might move to a new club after Brentford boss Thomas Frank admitted they are willing to sell Toney for the “right price”.
The Mirror reported over the weekend that ‘Toney is ready to leave Brentford in January’ after his ‘crunch meeting’ with Frank.
The report continues: ‘Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal are expected to explore the conditions of a deal in the coming months before deciding whether to formalise their interest and while Brentford would ideally favour a summer sale to avoid mid-season distractions, Toney is prepared to push for a January move – meaning it’s possible that he may have already played his final game for the west London outfit.’