Why Celtic shouldn't regret choosing Albian Ajeti over Ivan Toney

By David Walton

October 27, 2020

I’m very aware this is one of those pieces that could be plucked out in two years’ time when Ivan Toney has just put Leicester 1-0 up at Old Trafford, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

In recent times there has been some frustration echoed on social media by some in the Celtic support regarding not signing new Brentford striker Toney. Indeed, it was the Championship side who swooped in for him and secured the £5million deal with Peterborough United. One which could rise to £10m in add-ons (Sky Sports).

Meanwhile, Celtic signed Albian Ajeti in the summer for £5m from West Ham United (Sky Sports). The deal doesn’t come with any reported add-on fees either.

But even though Ajeti has made a fine start to the season with five goals in eight Premiership games, some still believed we missed out on Toney. Here’s a look at some of the reaction over the last week after the Brentford man notched seven goals in his first seven Championship outings:

Celtic couldn’t justify both Ajeti and Toney

It’s absolutely essential when you reflect on the Toney situation that you remember just how much we spent over the summer for Neil Lennon’s rebuild.

In addition to the Ajeti figure, we brought in David Turnbull – £3.25m (BBC). Vasilis Barkas – £4.5m (Scottish Sun), Shane Duffy – £2m (Sky Sports). That’s just under £15m worth of talent dished out on the squad. That’s as well as the fact we didn’t sell any of our current stars and also failed to reach the Champions League riches.

So even if Lennon did want Toney in as well as Ajeti, it was difficult to justify throwing another £10m commitment onto what we had already spent. Especially considering we still have Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths, and Patryk Klimala available for selection.

There is also absoltuely no guarantee that Toney would’ve thrived here the way he is doing with Brentford. At Celtic, you’re faced with more difficult mental challenges, some of which certainly don’t exist in England’s second tier.

Ivan Toney with a man-of-the-match award (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Look at Teemu Pukki for example. Couldn’t hit a barn door for Celtic yet has managed 31 goals in 50 Championship games in England (Transfermarkt). Certain clubs and environments just suit certain players.

Had we signed Toney and it was Ajeti firing them in for another Championship side, we would be ruing not splashing out on him too. The point being that this wasn’t some sort of glaring error Celtic made. None of us were disappointed to get Ajeti in the door, and his goal record so far proves we were right not to be.

Toney certainly has talent and has started his Brentford career in electric form. But that shouldn’t be used to batter Celtic with. We made a decision in the summer that suited us best, and so far it’s proving to be a sound one.

In other news, we discuss why Celtic can’t allow a deceiving stat to continue affecting them badly.