Published On: Fri, Jan 5th, 2024
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Arsenal have Liverpool icon to thank for creating ‘monster’ who is £65m cheaper than Toney | Football | Sport

Arsenal could save a hefty chunk of transfer money by pursuing a January move for Bayer Leverkusen forward Victor Boniface instead of Ivan Toney. Boniface has scored 16 goals in all competitions so far this season, with the 20-year-old thriving under the guidance of former Liverpool ace Xabi Alonso at Leverkusen.

Arsenal have struggled for consistency in front of goal in recent months, leading to suggestions that a new striker could be targeted before the end of this month. Toney has been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium for a number of years but Brentford are said to be demanding a nine-figure transfer fee in exchange for his signature.

A cheaper alternative could present itself in the form of Boniface, who is reportedly valued at just £34m by Transfermarkt and has proven his scoring credentials in Germany this season. He has successfully been turned into a real force by Alonso, with his prolific form suggesting that he would be a welcome addition to Mikel Arteta’s squad this month.

Boniface was recently hailed by Molde assistant coach Trond Strande, who was quick to identify the forward as a major threat ahead of last month’s Europa League game between the Norwegian heavyweights and Leverkusen. He said: “He is a physical monster. We know him from before and we are looking forward to that duel.”

Boniface would stand a good chance of adjusting well at Arsenal if he ends up moving to north London before the transfer window slams shut. He is already used to playing in a familiar system, given that Alonso tends to set up his Leverkusen team in a similar way to the Gunners.

Meanwhile, the strong relationship between Arteta and Alonso could prove to be crucial in bringing Boniface to Arsenal. The two managers remain close friends after growing up together in Spain, while they also lived near each other while Alonso was playing for Liverpool and Arteta was at Everton.

The Arsenal boss opened up on his bond with Alonso back in 2020, saying: “Since we were seven or eight years old we’ve known each other. We played together from a club that was in our region in San Sebastian, then we were neighbours when he was playing for Liverpool and I was at Everton.”

It remains to be seen if Arsenal will eventually firm up their reported interest in Boniface, who remains tied down to Leverkusen until 2028 as things stand. He would certainly be a more cost-effective option than Toney, but only time will tell which direction the Gunners will decide to go in over the next few weeks.

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