January transfer targets: Could Toney and Luiz fire Arsenal to the title?

By on December 22, 2023

Arsenal currently sit top of the Premier League table and look to be mounting another serious title charge after narrowly missing out on the title last season. The Gunners lead the way for the vast majority of the 2022/23 season, but a late season collapse allowed Manchester City to close the gap and win their third consecutive title.

A lack of squad depth is widely believed to have been a main reason for Arsenal’s failure to finish the job last year. William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu both picked up untimely injuries during the final months of last season and it ultimately cost us the league title as we simply didn’t have enough cover to cope without them.

Hopefully Mikel Arteta won’t make the same mistake this time around as the boss is expected to use the January transfer window to bolster his squad. The boss is reportedly keen on bringing in another defender, midfielder and a striker to strengthen throughout the team. This will hopefully give Arsenal enough depth to cope during the business end of the season and help us secure our first title since 2004.

Let’s take a look at some of the key targets we’re being linked with:

Ivan Toney

Arsenal have one of the most exciting attacks in the league, but many feel we’re still lacking an out-and-out goalscorer. Gabriel Jesus is an excellent footballer and has been pivotal to our success. However, by his own admission, he’s not a natural finisher and isn’t the type of player who’ll score 15+ league goals a season. The Brazilian’s injury record is also a concern as he’s struggled to stay fit for prolonged periods since arriving from Man City.

Eddie Nkietiah is currently Arsenal’s second choice striker and while he’s made huge improvements to his game in recent years, I think it’s safe to say we need an upgrade if we want to be winning major honours. So, it’s no surprise to hear that Arteta is looking to bring in another top class striker this winter and the main target appears to be Ivan Toney.

The 27-year-old has developed into one of the best strikers in the Premier League since joining Brentford from Peterborough in 2020. Toney scored 20 goals in 33 league games last season and had broken into the England set-up before being banned for 8 months after breaking betting guidelines.

He is strong, fast, can hold the ball up and link play, is good in the air and a terrific finisher, so he has all the attributes to be a great addition to Arteta’s squad. Many fans with Arsenal tickets are crying out for the club to do all they can to sign Toney this winter as they believe he can fire us to the title. However, a deal isn’t going to be easy.

Brentford are understandably desperate to keep hold of him and have reportedly slapped a £100m price-tag on his head. That’s probably unrealistic but he will still cost north of £70m, so Arsenal will need to dig deep to get a fee agreed. The problem is we can’t afford that type of money after spending over £200m in the summer, so we’ll need to sell to raise funds.

Nketiah is the obvious choice and rumours suggest that Crystal Palace, West Ham and Brentford are all interested. Is is too simplistic to think we could sell Nketiah to Brentford as part of a deal for Toney? Nketiah should fetch at least £30m, and as a homegrown player, it would all be posted as pure profit on the balance sheet, which would free up the funds needed for Toney.

So any potential move for the Bees striker will most likely depend on Arsenal being able to offload Nketiah or another valuable asset such as Aaron Ramsdale. If we could swap Nketiah for Toney, there is no doubt we’d be in a much stronger position to win the title this season, so the club should do all they can to make it happen this winter.

Douglas Luiz

Arsenal are also in need of another midfielder as we don’t have the required depth in the middle of the park right now. Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard are integral parts of Arsenal’s starting eleven while Kai Havertz looks to be settling in well after a tough start to his career following his move from Chelsea last summer. They are Arteta’s preferred midfield trio right now, but we don’t have a huge amount of reliable alternatives.

Thomas Partey is a top class player but he’s proven time and again he just cannot stay fit, and it’s hurting the team. He’s expected to be sold either in January or in the summer. Jorginho’s lack of mobility is a problem for Arsenal and the 32-year-old isn’t good enough to command a regular starting spot. Fabio Vieira has only shown glimpses of his potential since arriving from Porto while Mohamed Elneny is nothing more than a fringe player.

Arsenal need another quality midfielder and Douglas Luiz is reportedly the player we want. We tried to buy him in 2022 but failed with a deadline day move – could we be more successfully this time around? The Brazilian has been outstanding for Aston Villa this season and they are flying high in the league, so it’s not going to be easy to get a deal done.

Luiz is likely to cost around £60m-£70m, so he’ll be another major investment. We’ll have to sell before we can afford any deal for Luiz, and Partey is the most sellable asset that would make sense. The Ghanaian international is attracting interest from Italy, Spain and Saudi Arabia, so we could get around £25m-£30m from any sale which would cover a large part of the Luiz fee.

Another defender?

The injury to Jurrien Timber on the opening day of the season really hurt Arsenal as it left us short at the back. Tomiyasu is our other versatile defender but he has had his own injury issues to contend with. It’s left Arteta with just five senior defenders to choose from, so an injury to one of them would severely derail out title push.

It’s no surprise then that Arteta wants another defender but we really don’t have the money to buy one right now. And we don’t have any defender we could sell to generate funds. Timber is reportedly close to returning to training following his ACL injury while Tomiyasu could be back at the end of the month, so Arsenal may wait until the summer to strengthen in defence and use January to focus on midfield and attack.

It’s certainly not going to be easy for Arsenal to negotiate two big-money deals in January, especially we’d need to also agree two big-money sales to help raise the required funds. However, if we could sell Partey and Nketiah and replace them with Luiz and Toney, there is no doubt we’d have strengthened the squad and be in a much better position to win the title this season.