Celtic and Rangers’ reported pursuit of Ivan Toney is turning into an early contender for saga of the summer.
It appears the Scottish champions are the team who currently possess a greater interest in the player but that could change if Alfredo Morelos in the transfer window.
Toney's club Peterborough United have been very open about the player's future with the director of football and chairman confirming they could sell the striker but have demanded a significant fee for their top scorer.
Why are clubs interested?
The first thing which stands out is the player’s excellent scoring record. He has hit at least double figures in his last four seasons, but it was the campaign which has just finished where he truly hit top form, netting 26 goals in 39 appearances.
No player hit more shots in League One during the 2019/20 season, impressively he hit the target with 50 per cent of his 122 shots, 41 of which were headed efforts, the second highest tally in the league.
His conversion rate stood at just under 20 per cent, meaning he was scoring once every five or so shots, a similar ratio to Odsonne Edouard.
Toney is adept at staying onside, being flagged 0.81 times per 90. Leigh Grffiths is offside 1.34 per 90, albeit he is more of ‘on the shoulder of the last defender’ type of striker.
Peterborough United director of football Barry Fry predicts Toney would take Scottish football by storm if he moved north.
"He’d score 30 to 40 goals up there, he really would," he told the Scottish Sun.
“Not only is he brilliant in the box, scoring and creating with his right foot, left foot and head, at six foot four he’s also our best defender.”
Fry may have been getting carried away with himself by labelling Toney the club's best defender, but he will look to get involved in the defensive side. He recorded 3.17 duels per 90 minutes, winning 53.7 per cent of them.
Edouard was involved in 1.57 defensive duels per 90 with a 50 per cent success rate. Griffiths won 47.37 per cent of his 3.64 per 90.
Newcastle United disappointment
Toney arrived on Tyneside with plenty of promise and hype, costing £250,000 after breaking through at Northampton Town at just 16, becoming the club's youngest ever goalscorer.
However, he wasn’t given much first-team action and spent much of his Newcastle career out on loan.
Toney spoke to The Athletic earlier in the season about how he didn’t feel he was given a “proper chance" under Rafa Benitez and didn't feel "valued" at the club.
It forced him to leave for regular and settled first-team football.
It led him to move to Peterborough United who were managed at the time by Scottish coach Steve Evans.
Evans fully believed he was signing a top Championship or Premier League player.
He said: “I think the Geordies would have loved Ivan had they seen him playing in the Premier League.”
Part of the £350,000 deal which took Toney from Newcastle United to Peterborough, despite a £600,000 bid on the table from a European side, included a significant sell-on clause, according to the Shields Gazette.
It has been confirmed by Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony as being “very large”.
The clause shows that Newcastle believed there to be a talented striker on their books who they felt could develop into an expensive asset.
It perhaps gives an indication of why Peterborough are trying to eke out as much money as possible with MacAnthony warning clubs not to "take the mickey out" of the club with offers.
The club appear to want around £12million for the forward.
However, such is the current climate, offers below that will likely tempt the third tier English club.
How likely is a transfer to happen?
A lot will probably depend on Brentford who are in the Championship play-off final. The Bees are reportedly front of the queue having put in the most enticing offer.
Reaching the Premier League would give them a financial boost and be a more attractive offer for the player who has interest from the Championship and Premier League.
Celtic and Rangers can not only offer European football but also a track record in improving young strikers, taking them to the next level and perhaps on to an even bigger stage.