£72m Ivan Toney signed for Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd on Football Manager - this is where he did best
How would the Brentford striker fare if he made a big money move to Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal?
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Ivan Toney will return to contention following his suspension in the new year - but his return will coincide with further speculation over his future at Brentford.
Strangely, his absence from the Bees side has failed to quell any talk of a January move as several Premier League rivals look to persuade Thomas Frank to part company with his lead striker. But how could Toney fare away from Brentford? We fired up Football Manager 2023 to see how the striker gets on with three big money moves.
Despite the presence of recent signings Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson, Toney was immediately handed opportunities to shine at Stamford Bridge after being given the lead role in Mauricio Pochettino’s attack.
He rewarded the former Spurs and PSG manager by hitting the ground running with goals in each of his first four appearances as his new side collected eight points from home wins against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth and two away draws at Newcastle United and Arsenal.
A thigh injury suffered in the second half of the latter of those fixtures disrupted Toney’s introduction to life in west London and he struggled to find his way back into the Chelsea side after Nkunku seized the opportunity handed to him with a run of seven goals in ten games, including a brace in a 2-0 win at rivals Fulham.
However, the England striker regained his place ahead of the festive break and played a lead role in ensuring the Blues were firmly in the mix for a place in the Champions League places by taking his tally into double figures with a hat-trick in a titanic seven-goal thriller against Manchester United.
Toney also impressed in the FA Cup as his side reached the semi-finals, when his late brace was not enough to secure a place in the final as Newcastle secured a 4-2 win over the Blues. That meant the Magpies had gained revenge for the events of six days earlier when Toney got the only goal of a win at St. James’ Park that ensured Chelsea beat their hosts to the fourth and final Champions League place.
There was immediate competition for Toney after he completed a £72m move to Old Trafford as Erik ten Hag opted to hand the number nine shirt to his other big signing at the top end of the pitch.
Of course, that is just a shirt number, but that gesture spilled over into the Dutchman’s team selection as Rasmus Hojlund was handed a starting place on the opening day of the season and laid down a marker with a brace in a 4-0 win over Everton.
Toney had to make do with occasional substitute appearances, with his only start coming in a shock 2-1 home defeat against Championship club Blackburn Rovers in a Carabao Cup tie. That Old Trafford loss did see the former Brentford man notch his first goal for his new club - but it was Hojlund’s league form that ensured Toney continued to warm the bench in the big games.
His second start did not arrive until the new year but the England man struggled to find form as he failed to find the net in four successive appearances and dropped back to the bench as his side were left falling short in their bid for major honours and a top four place.
An FA Cup fourth round exit at the hands of local rivals Manchester City hardly helped the mood around Old Trafford and a Premier League defeat at the Etihad Stadium just a week later brought a close to Ten Hag’s reign at the club. The shock return of Jose Mourinho was confirmed with two months of the season remaining and that brought a slight change in fortunes for Toney as he returned to the starting eleven on a regular basis.
His goal return was modest at best as he netted five times in 12 appearances but it was not enough to claim a place in the Champions League and a sixth placed finish left United to prepare for life in the Europa League.
After months of speculation, Toney finally completed a move across London to give Mikel Arteta the lead frontman he craved so much.
With Gabriel Jesus now playing a supporting role as a number ten and Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli providing the chances from out wide, the Gunners were in explosive form as they won their first eight Premier League games.
The high point came when Toney hit a stunning hat-trick in a 3-2 home win against north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to take his tally to nine goals in his first eight appearances. However, a calf injury disrupted the form of he striker and his side as Jesus failed to step up in his absence.
By the time Toney returned to contention in mid-November, Arteta’s side had slipped to fifth in the Premier League table and had been knocked out of the Carabao Cup with a 3-1 defeat at Everton. His well-timed return did produce some results for the team as the striker failed to find the net.
However, he played his part in an upturn in form with several assists that saw the Gunners burst back into the top four and title race with win at Manchester City and Newcastle, as well as an impressive Emirates victory against an out of sorts Chelsea.
With their attacking quartet now reunited for the final months of the season, Arsenal ended the campaign in second place in the table, 12 points shy of champions Manchester City. There was silverware as Toney and Saka netted in a 2-1 win over Brighton in the FA Cup Final.