Not so sure that Ivan Toney is the one who got away

The story goes Celtic were in for three strikers at the time, Ivan Toney, Stephen Fletcher and Albian Ajeti. And we know how the story ended.

Stephen Fletcher allegedly wanted a two-year contract and we were apparently only willing to offer one, whilst Ivan Toney was in the building at Celtic, but apparently didn’t feel Celtic were serious about offering him a deal.

Meanwhile, a loan with an option to buy was Celtic’s ‘try before you buy’ preference for Ajeti, before David Moyes apparently claimed it was a permanent move that summer or the deal was off. Albian Ajeti then signed on at Celtic for £18,000 a week (as per Salary Sport). He’s now on loan at Sturm Graz, ironically on a loan with an option to buy attached.

Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/Sportimage

Of the three strikers Celtic were linked with in the summer of 2020 Ivan Toney is the biggest success. When it comes to a player now due to make his England debut, perhaps as soon as this evening against Italy in Naples, then Brentford beating Celtic to the punch looks an opportunity lost. After all Toney has scored 64 goals in 115 games for the West London club having been something of a late bloomer as a player.

Yet Toney comes with baggage. We now know there is a lengthy ban from the game likely to kick in later rather than sooner – perhaps to ensure much of it can be served over the summer recess – for alleged bets – in excess of 200 of them at the last count – made on the outcome of games.

Ivan Toney. Photo: Mark D Fuller

Prior to those revelations Ivan Toney was also forced to apologise to the Brentford support when a social media video taken on holiday during a summer which saw the striker linked to some big EPL sides showed Toney videoed proclaiming – and I paraphrase, as this is pre watershed – ‘Donald Duck, Brentford!’ with Toney saying “I am aware of a video that was published on social media … in it I used language that was unacceptable,”. Toney questioned whether the Video had been edited but even if it had the crass wording was certainly used by the player towards the club and he admitted as much.

At the time Celtic were all too aware of the trouble high profile strikers who go rogue can have on the club’s reputation and in Leigh Griffiths we all had more than enough to contend with.

18th January 2020 Firhill Stadium, Scottish Cup, Partick Thistle versus Celtic Leigh Griffiths celebrates after he opens the scoring – Photo ActionPlus Vagelis Georgariou

As such the idea that Ivan Toney is the one who got away at Celtic is certainly valid, on the field at least. But would the Glasgow Goldfish bowl been the ideal place for an individual who wouldn’t perhaps realise that at Celtic you are always ‘on duty’? Possibly not.

Paul Gascoigne was an incredibly talented footballer, but I’d have never wanted him in a Celtic shirt because there was always just too much noise and distraction surrounding him. Meanwhile Leigh Griffiths was a maverick the club tolerated when the net was bulging, but when the goals dried up, the professionalism plummeted and the off-field distractions continued, we moved on. Had we known what was to come I think chances are we’d never have bothered.

Stephen Fletcher was certainly a one-year short term deal at best and as such Celtic were perhaps right to step away from that one. Meanwhile Albian Ajeti has proved a colossal waste of cash, as a series of injuries and what sometimes appears disinterest from the player, impacted on his time with Celtic, which you assume will soon be drawing to a close.

Yet, I’m not so sure Ivan Toney is the one who got away when you look at it all as a whole. Because, whilst London is a city you can disappear into as a footballer, with a degree of anonymity – particularly at one of the smaller clubs – Glasgow is 24 hours a day, seven days a week gig. And as good a player as Toney is – and he is excellent – the fallout from such a situation may not have been good for the image of our club, even if the goals would have been more than welcome.

Niall J


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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.


  1. Yes Ivan would have been reporters dream good player but a lot of baggage and scottish media wouldn’t let him away with what Gascoigne got away with I bet there was more cover ups by reporters who didn’t want to miss Murray’s parties they know know remember the stories up about Celtic_fc_1888 went a trip to Newcastle lies lies all lies that’s what Celtic_fc_1888 players had to put up with celtic player of old drank with old co rangers players when asked he said apart from friends you never got your name in Sunday papers they would had to mention your drinking partners

    • Even with the baggage Niall, Celtic missed signing an excellent player now worth £50 mill plus.Celtics loss and little old Brentfords gain.keep on convincing yourself Bhoys.

  2. Even with the baggage Niall, Celtic missed signing an excellent player now worth £50 mill plus.Celtics loss and little old Brentfords gain.keep on convincing yourself Bhoys.