Forget Ivan Toney - Arsenal could save £30m by signing budding star from the Netherlands

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A Mexican international tearing it up for Feyenoord could be the answer to Arsenal’s striker search - and would come in quite a bit cheaper than Ivan Toney.

If you believe the paper talk, Arsenal are seriously interested in adding Ivan Toney to their ranks in January, when the Brentford striker comes back from his suspension related to gambling activities. The price tag would be in the region of £75m, perhaps a reasonable price for a proven Premier League forward in his prime – but there may be a better deal out there for a similar kind of player, and one who would have a few more years in the tank at that.

Santiago Giménez has been pulling up trees ever since he signed for Feyenoord last summer, hitting 24 goals in 38 Eredivise games including a hat-trick in the recent game against Ajax that was postponed after crowd trouble both in and outside the stadium. The Mexican has a similar skill set and profile to Toney – but at 22, he is five years younger and would likely set the Gunners back £30m less. Small wonder, then, that the Metro recently reported that Mikel Arteta had sent his scouts over to Rotterdam to take a closer look.

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Santiago Giménez celebrates one of his 24 Eredivisie goals so farSantiago Giménez celebrates one of his 24 Eredivisie goals so far
Santiago Giménez celebrates one of his 24 Eredivisie goals so far | ANP/AFP via Getty Images

That hat-trick took him to nine goals in six games this season already, with a couple of assists on top of that. His finishing is coming on leaps and bounds, as is his use of the ball in and around the area. Already blessed with most of the physical attributes required in a top-tier striker – a decent burst of acceleration, strength and at least respectable jumping height – he is adding nous to his game at a rapid rate.

Like Toney, he uses his sharpness in the channels and his intelligent movement to create half-yards of space where none should be, and like Toney he is a fine finisher with the power and physical prowess to get the better of larger defenders in tight areas.

Both make a lot of sense for an attack like Arsenal’s, one based on fluid movement and quick interchanges around the penalty box. They both have broadly similar profiles to that of Gabriel Jesus, the first striker Arteta turned to in order to link up his gifted wide attackers – but Jesus has failed to improve his finishing, and for all his guile still isn’t the 20-goal marksman that a team needs to have a realistic shot at the Premier League title. Given that the team stood in Arsenal’s way are Manchester City, those extra goals will be needed even more.

Toney would be a fine signing, assuming the books could be balanced in a season when Arsenal have already put around £170m down on Declan Rice and Kai Havertz. He may need a few games to get back up to speed after his lengthy ban, but sooner or later you can reasonably expect to get a striker who would work with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli and could at least get close to that 20 goal mark in the 2024/25 season – after all, he managed it last year with Brentford.

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But Giménez already looks to be at a similar level and could easily be just as effective, while also helping the Gunners to stay well within FFP requirements – and if he pans out, they can expect another five years of service before it’s time to move him on.

There’s also some evidence of his becoming a fine player with his back to goal – not Toney’s greatest strength, and if that’s a string that the Mexican can add to his bow, then it could give Arsenal’s attack a whole new dimension, allowing them to hold the ball up and link up with late runs from the widemen or the ever-onrushing Martin Ødegaard.

There is every chance that Giménez ends up as more well-rounded player than Toney is, although the England forward certainly has a higher top speed – Giménez is quick enough over a couple of yards to get separation from a defender, but Toney would comfortably outstrip him when it comes to surging into open spaces behind an advanced defensive line. They have similar profiles, true, but different points of strength and weakness to contend with.

Giménez made his Mexico debut in 2021 and has scored four goals for the national team.Giménez made his Mexico debut in 2021 and has scored four goals for the national team.
Giménez made his Mexico debut in 2021 and has scored four goals for the national team. | AFP via Getty Images

Of course, Giménez would not be the first forward to come over from the Netherlands with an exceptional goalscoring record… there is a long and chequered history associated with such deals, and while it doesn’t seem too fanciful to imagine him as the next Luís Suarez, there’s always the chance that he’s more of an Afonso Alves. £45m may be a lot less than £75m, but it’s still a meaty gamble on a comparatively unproven young player, albeit one with 20 international caps under his belt already. Fresh-faced he may be, but he’s hardly new to this game.

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Perhaps Arsenal’s scouts will come back with the conclusion that Giménez is too much of a gamble, and maybe Arteta or the higher-ups would prefer a more proven name to lead the line going forward. But a big club will take a chance on the Buenos Aires-born youngster soon, and there’s every chance that they’ll be very glad that they did.

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