Brentford style ideal for strikers so should they cash in on Toney?

Ivan Toney’s return to training has sparked interest in the striker’s future ahead of his return to football in January.

Brentford will want to keep their Premier League record scorer, who is among the most effective finishers in the division. Were he to depart for a suitable fee, however, it might not be as debilitating to the club as it would seem.

Toney has scored 32 Premier League goals for Brentford since their promotion, almost double as many as anyone else. Those 32 goals account for 28% of his club’s overall return – Harry Kane (31%) is the only player with a higher percentage for an ever-present club in that time.

Clearly Brentford have relied heavily upon Toney’s goals. Just four players have scored more since their promotion and his shot conversion ranks among the best in the division since the start of last season. Only Kane, Erling Haaland and Callum Wilson surpass it among the division’s most prolific scorers.

Those goals would leave a sizeable void for any replacement to fill. An advantage of playing for Brentford, however, is the service provided to their forwards. While the club’s shots per game only rank 14th in the Premier League since the start of last season, their xG per shot leads the way.

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Mikel Arteta believes the role of a traditional No 9 is still active in modern football and names Ivan Toney as one of the many examples who play the role well.

This means the average quality of a chance created by Brentford is greater than at any other club. Essentially, it’s easier to convert those chances into goals and therefore makes it one of the more favourable environments for a striker to thrive.

A key to this is shot location. Brentford’s average shot comes closer to goal than any other Premier League side, bar one, which in turn boosts their high percentage of shots on target and overall impressive conversion rate.

This is also part of the reason for the increased potency shown by Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa, now playing further forward in Toney’s absence. Between them, they have scored 15 of Brentford’s last 20 goals without Toney.

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Brentford head coach Thomas Frank question why he would sell striker Ivan Toney in the January transfer window amid reports of interest from Arsenal.

Mbeumo’s shot conversion is 29% in the 11 games Toney has missed since the start of last season, having been 6% through the rest of his Premier League career, while Wissa has had seven big chances in those 11 games, having had just nine in his previous 63. Both have been given that favourable platform to perform in Brentford’s system, and have benefitted.

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This week on The Question, Sam Blitz and Nick Wright ask whether Arsenal need a new No 9 if they want to win the Premier League.

Playing without Toney is also something Brentford have had to adapt to already. Despite losing the last two games, they actually hold a better record without him, taking more points per game, scoring more often, and averaging more shots.

There’s nothing to say Toney would not have influenced those games even more, but it emphasises the fact there is a functioning process that can still be effective without him.

Toney is a proven Premier League scorer and a player who would rightly command a significant fee should he be sold. Brentford will want to keep hold of their talisman but have remained successful in the short term in his absence. Whenever he does move on, the club have the creative foundations to enhance any replacement and ensure their success continues.

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