The record shows Ivan Toney spent three years as a Newcastle United player. Indeed, the 26-year-old was on the St James Park club’s books between 2012 and 2015, but he only managed two league appearances for the Magpies in that time, instead spending much of this time out on loan at no fewer than four different clubs over six different stints.
A lot has changed for Toney in the time since. A move to Peterborough United in 2018 proved to be the catalyst he needed to fulfil his potential with a subsequent switch to Brentford taking him to the Premier League. Now, it’s entirely possible that Toney’s career could come full circle with a return to the north east.
Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for a new centre forward and Toney has been mentioned as an option. Hugo Ekitike was targeted before Paris Saint-Germain secured a deal for the Reims forward. Charles de Ketelaere was assessed before AC Milan jumped to the front of the queue to sign the Club Brugge prospect.
In some ways, Toney would be a less ambitious signing than Newcastle United might have hoped for. Ekitike and de Ketelaere are viewed as two of the brightest young attacking prospects in the European game. Their capture would have made a statement about the Magpies’ ability to lure the very best to the club.
Toney, however, would give Eddie Howe a lot of what he needs to take Newcastle United higher up the Premier League table this season. The Magpies have already made a number of shrewd additions to their squad since last year’s Saudi Arabia-backed takeover and the Brentford striker could also be classified in a similar way.
Of course, Newcastle already have Callum Wilson to lead the line. When fit, the 30-year-old is among the most natural goalscorers in the Premier League, but his patchy injury record is surely a concern for Howe. Wilson started just 16 Premier League matches last season and failed to hit double figures for goals having struck 12 times in 26 games the season before.
Chris Wood was added to Newcastle United’s squad in the January transfer window and proved his worth as a valuable option in attack. Indeed, the New Zealand international gave Howe’s team physicality in the penalty box and played an important role as Newcastle avoided relegation to the Championship. On top of this, Newcastle also weakened a relegation rival by taking Wood from Burnley. The ploy worked.
However, Wood is limited as a centre forward. If Newcastle United want to become a modern, dynamic outfit under Howe, they can’t rely on the 30-year-old to carry the goalscoring burden over the course of the full campaign. This is why Howe clearly feels the need to enter the market for another number nine.
Toney has proven himself as the attacking apex of a modern team as Thomas Frank’s Brentford held their own in the Premier League last season. Not only was the 26-year-old a reliable finisher in front of goal, scoring 12 goals in 33 league games last term, he played his role as a facilitator for others, contributing five assists.
As a modern centre forward, Toney offers a lot. He can run the channels, drop deep to link up play and take up dangerous positions inside the area to get on the end of through balls and crosses. The likes of Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier would work well with Toney. He has earned a second chance to make a first impression at St James’ Park.