Ivan Toney has emerged as key target for Arsenal and Chelsea
Ivan Toney has emerged as key target for Arsenal and Chelsea (Picture: Getty)

Chelsea have jumped significantly ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign Ivan Toney from Brentford in the January transfer window.

The Brentford striker, whose eight-month ban for breaking gambling regulations is set to expire in the New Year, has been identified as a primary target for two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

Both London giants would ideally like to strengthen their forward line at the earliest opportunity, but the Gunners will face an uphill battle to secure the services of a striker who scored 20 top flight goals last season.

While Arsenal have made a solid start to the new campaign, goals have been in short supply for their two recognised centre forwards Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus who has started just one Premier League game up front due a succession of injuries to himself and his teammates.

According to the Telegraph, however, if Toney is to depart Brentford for Arsenal, it will not be in January.

For starters, the Bees have little intention of selling their prize asset before next summer, and have placed a prohibitive £80million price tag on the 27-year-old.

Ivan Toney scored 20 Premier League goals last season
Ivan Toney scored 20 Premier League goals last season (Picture: Getty)

With Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa set to feature in the Africa Cup of Nations at the turn of the year, Toney’s impending return could not be better timed for Thomas Frank.

Arsenal, meanwhile, came close to flouting Financial Fair Play rules in the summer and it was only Brentford’s generosity that allowed them to sign goalkeeper David Raya on loan, initially, ahead of a £27m permanent move next summer.

While the Gunners have spent extravagantly under Mikel Arteta, they have tended to be more reserved in the winter window, with last year’s outlay of £50m on Leandro Trossard and Jakub Kiwior an anomaly.

In any case, Arsenal believe that a striker no longer represents a priority with Jesus now, hopefully over his injury problems, with Trossard, Nketiah and even Kai Havertz representing solid alternatives.

Central midfield, however, has become an area of concern. Thomas Partey is set to return in January, but will then depart almost immediately for the Africa Cup of Nations where Mohamed Elneny is also likely to feature for Egypt.

That will place an even greater burden on the likes of Declan Rice and Jorginho, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

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