Arsenal may have blocked themselves from top target and funded £60m swoop for rivals | Football | Sport

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Arsenal may have shot themselves in the foot by paving the way for Chelsea to sign Ivan Toney ahead of next season. Mikel Arteta is said to be a long-term admirer of Toney, who has been open about his desire to play for a top club after emerging as one of the Premier League‘s finest marksmen.

The Brentford striker was linked with a move away in the January window, with Arsenal said to have been the frontrunners for his signature. However, the Bees were reportedly unwilling to sell in the middle of the season for anything less than nine figures.

Arsenal were said to have been restricted in terms of their January spending in order to ensure compliance with FFP regulations. If this remains the case, they may not be able to sign Toney until they have raised money through player sales, which could give Chelsea a window to pounce at the end of the season.

The Blues have also been credited with an interest in Toney, with Todd Boehly and Mauricio Pochettino said to be keen on adding more firepower to their squad. According to HITC, a deal could be done for a cut-price figure of around £60m in the summer, which would give Brentford more time to source a replacement.

Chelsea may well have their own FFP concerns to deal with in the summer, having spent billions of pounds on players over the last few windows. However, their recent dealings with Arsenal could effectively fund a move for Toney, with the Gunners having bought Jorginho and Kai Havertz from their London rivals last year.

Jorginho arrived at the Emirates Stadium for a fee in the region of £12million, while Havertz was signed for around £65m a few months later. It means that Chelsea could match Brentford’s asking price for Toney and still have £17m left over from the money Arsenal paid them, which will have helped to balance the books at Stamford Bridge.

It remains to be seen where Toney will be playing his club football next season, with the 27-year-old likely to move on at the end of the current campaign. It seems that Chelsea might already have the upper hand over Arsenal, but only time will tell if the Blues can thrash out a deal when the bidding opens in June.

Toney has indicated that he would be open to joining either club, revealing last month that he wants to test himself at the very highest level. He told Sky Sports: “You can never predict when is the right time to move elsewhere. It’s obvious I’d like to play for a top club, everybody wants to play for the top clubs, fighting for titles and these kinds of things.

“Whether it’s this January for a club to come in and pay the right money, who knows? But my main focus is doing what I do on the pitch and let the background work take care of itself. To be the best you have to play with the best and [be] competing against the best.”

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