As Ivan Toney bagged another goal and two assists in Brentford’s 3-1 win over Reading (meaning he contributed in all three of his side’s goals to help them claim another victory) it took his tally to a frankly astounding record of 23 goals in 28 games for Brentford this season so far.
Ivan Toney’s Rise From League Two to Premier League Chasing Brentford
One of the Best Goal Contributors in Europe
He’s averaging 0.8 goals per game – nearly one a game. He also has nine assists for the season, which means he actually has more goal contributions than games. As you can see below, he even has the highest amount of goal contributions in the top five leagues in Europe.
📈 Most involved in goals in 20/21 (Uefa 'Top 5' leagues + C'ship):
— playmakerstats (@playmaker_EN) February 11, 2021
Let’s remind ourselves at this point that Toney is still only 24-years of age.
It’s been a tremendous growth for the striker, having come up through the ranks at Northampton Town and pinballed from club to club and around the Football League. At some points of his career, some were writing him off, believing the forward to be a ‘lower-league striker’ and not many were willing to take a punt on him. He’s certainly proving them all wrong now.
Early Start at Northampton
He started his footballing career for his hometown side’s youth side. After impressing for them, he was quickly ushered into the first-team and made his debut at the tender age of 17-years old. Thrust into a League Two relegation battle, he got off to a flying start. Thirteen appearances for the club, and three starts, led to four-goal contributions. Not a bad record for a youngster.
Northampton knew they had a player on their hands and decided to up his role in the side from bench player to first-team regular. He appeared in three times as many games for the club a season later, making 40 league appearances and managing eleven goal contributions.
His contributions had increased along with his game time and he had helped drag the side from the pits of the fourth tier to a 12th-placed finish that campaign.
Signed by Newcastle United
His efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed higher up the football pyramid – a lot higher. Toney was young, clearly had the goalscoring touch and was tall and imposing but with pace to burn, qualities that not every striker has. Newcastle United saw potential in the then 18-year old and moved very quickly to snap him up.
They threw him in almost immediately. He was given his debut in the League Cup and was then given his Premier League debut against Chelsea after coming off the bench – not an easy way to start your career in the top flight by any means. They would though prove to be his only two appearances for the Toon.
Newcastle saw no use for him at that time but they knew he had the potential to become a top player. Instead, they decided to give him the game time he needed elsewhere. Barnsley were interested and would give him the chance to try his luck in a higher league on a regular basis too, as the side were in League One and not League Two.
Short-Term Deal to League One Barnsley
Going on an initial 28-day loan to the club, he then eventually joined the side for the rest of the season. Making 15 appearances, he managed just three goals during that time. The signs of a good player were there but perhaps he flew under the radar because of his age, the fact he didn’t feature too prominently and his lack of scoring on too much of a regular basis.
The season after was another loan for the forward, this time to Shrewsbury Town. Trying his luck again in the third tier, he was given a lot more starting action. He started in 19 leagues games for the side and Shrewsbury were rewarded for their faith with ten goal contributions. He was proving to be a solid addition at this level and other teams in the third tier were desperate to seal a short-term deal for him for the remainder of that 2016/17 season.
Toney Proving Himself as a Solid League One Player
Scunthorpe United were the lucky team to secure one. Another 15 appearances led to another six goals and one assist, as his new club finished third in the third tier.
It was Wigan Athletic who snapped him up and benefitted from his goals in the first half of the 2017/18 season. In January, he then flitted back to Scunthorpe for the rest of the campaign and bagged another eight goals. He scored 12 in total for the two teams that season.
Toney, by this point, was a solid League One player. Now aged 22 and still only young, Toney was growing as a player with every experience. More game time led to more goal contributions, he’d proven that. All he needed now was a team to put the faith in him and make him their main striker. He would no doubt have liked the chance to go back to Newcastle or at least have shot at second-tier football.
Flourishing at Peterborough United
What Toney needed though, was to stop having short spells at teams. Going from side to side meant that just as the striker was getting into the groove of things he was pulled away from whatever side he was at.
It must have come as quite a shock then for Newcastle to let him go after all this progress. They’d sent him out regularly to help him improve as a player and he’d proved he could cut it at League One and Two. His curve was certainly heading up. However, Peterborough United proved that all he truly needed to thrive was the chance to become a regular feature in a permanent side and he got that with the Posh.
That first year with them, he proved what he was about. Not that his goalscoring efforts beforehand were terrible by any means, he became a whole different level of player in that first campaign.
Regular game time led to regular goals for Toney – as mentioned earlier – he just wasn’t given the chance to settle and become that regular starter because he was constantly on loan. That’s why, when given the chance and trusted as the main striker for Peterborough, he kicked his game up a level. He made 44 appearances in the league that season. He managed 22 goal contributions – once again, a goal contribution every other game.
Ivan Toney on the Radar of Championship Teams Like Brentford
Toney was proving that he certainly was a talented young player. His finishing touch was impeccable and he was finally being taken seriously as one of the hottest properties in the Football League. Newcastle had sold a player who was proving that he could hit the back of the net regularly and who could get into those dangerous positions on the pitch and tuck them away. They had sold a player with the potential to go to the very top.
Was it a fluke? Was he just a good player in a good team that finished 7th? A year later, he proved that he was definitely not. In fact, he got even better.
He actually made fewer appearances in the 2019/20 campaign making just 32 league appearances. 12 fewer games though did not mean fewer goals. He managed a ridiculous 29 goal contributions in those 32 appearances, nearly one a game.
Now, he was well and truly on the radar. After 85 goal contributions in five seasons in the third tier, he was a wanted man. Brentford were the ones who stumped up the cash for him and, despite his goalscoring record, a lot of fans who looked at his various loan stints with not much ‘regular scoring’ or a ‘standout goal record’ questioned the business. He’d never been tested in the second tier. Could he make the jump up?
Ivan Toney Has Become the Championship’s Best Striker for Title-Chasing Brentford
But Toney has always been ready. He’s always shone, worked hard and proven his goalscoring prowess when given a regular chance. He’s proven it to everyone this season with his 31 goal contributions in 28 league games for the Championship side. The jump up has been nothing to him and if he continues in this vein of form, he is certain to fire Brentford towards the Premier League.
The talent has always been there to see. He’s always possessed that finishing touch and that end product and ability to score when needed, he could just never truly embrace it due to the frequent switching of clubs. How can you settle and get used to the way a team plays when you are switched round every six months?
Now though, his fairytale story is potentially nearing its next chapter. He’s risen through the ranks of a lowly League Two side and proven himself in each tier and become the best striker in the Championship. Next for Toney? The Premier League. He might even meet his old team there – and he might make them regret selling him.
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