What Mikel Arteta said about Arsenal’s striker hunt amid Ivan Toney return

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By newsversepro.com

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had already dampened hopes that the Gunners might bring Brentford striker Ivan Toney – or indeed any other new ‘number nine’ – to the club before the end the England international made a triumphant return to action on Saturday.

In tandem with sporting director Edu, Arteta has overseen the redevelopment of the Arsenal squad in recent years, returning the club to the Premier League title race. But the squad still lacks a consistent goalscorer a la Thierry Henry or Ian Wright from years gone by.

No Arsenal player scored more than 15 times in all competitions last season and those that reached 15 – Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard – are wingers and midfielders. Strikers Gabriel Jesus, who has admitted scoring isn’t his strength, and Eddie Nketiah got 20 between them.

The Gunners are interested in signing Toney, who made a scoring return for Brentford on Saturday following an eight-month ban for breaching FA betting rules, but Arteta isn’t optimistic.

“At the moment it doesn’t look realistic,” he told beIN SPORTS when directly asked about recruiting a striker after the recent FA Cup defeat to Liverpool earlier this month. “My job is to improve our players and to get better results with the players we have.”

Along with Chelsea, Arsenal have been interested in Toney for some time, with 90min reporting back in September that Brentford were open to selling – but only for a fee in excess of £75m. Rather than cough up that level of cash, both clubs have instead been willing to offer players in exchange.

Soon to be 28 and only in his third season as an established top flight player after building his career in the EFL, Toney’s desire is to move on to a bigger stage. He is understood to have been shocked by Brentford’s asking price, prohibitive for a player into the final 18 months of his contract, and is keen to push for a transfer after Arsenal and Chelsea have both held talks with his representatives.

One mutually beneficial solution for Toney and Brentford is for him to sign a new contract, protecting his immediate market value, but one that includes a reasonable release clause for a predetermined fee and smooth exit. 90min understands the player is open to a new deal on those terms.

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