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How much 'should' Ivan Toney cost?
Looking at comparable players, and previous transfers to guesstimate at what a 'fair' price would be
There is going to be a lot of Ivan Toney content coming out because he is the transfer rumor de jour. Before we dig into the numbers and video on the player let’s look at the comparable players to see what players like him have moved for to set a baseline for a “fair” transfer value on the player.
I believe that this will be an exercise in futility because I think Toney’s value to Brentford, even with 18 months on his contract, and coming off of an 8-month ban for gambling is going to eclipse this but I think it is illuminating just how inflated the fee is likely to be compared to other moves.
Previous Premier League Transfers
Before getting into the comparable players let’s look at the other moves in the Premier League for forwards that moved inside the league during their age 26 to 29 seasons.
It is actually pretty rare for a striker in his age range to move, especially from a non top-6 team to a top-6 team.
Going back to the 2012-13 season it has happened just two times, Demba Ba moved from Newcastle to Chelsea for a release clause bargain of 8.5 million, Wilfred Boney went to Manchester City from Swansea City for a still head-scratching 32.3m, and that is it.
So yeah pretty rare and something that we don’t have an example of since 2017-18.
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Since 2012-13 there have been 20 forwards overall that moved inside the Premier League.
The average fee adjusted for inflation is 19.9m, with only Robin van Persie and Wilfried Bony over 40m after adjusting for transfer inflation. Boney is a really interesting comparable player, he didn’t have the same physical presence that Toney brings but he had very impressive numbers at Swansea when he moved in the January window.
After the move, well it didn’t quite work out with him becoming a bit player playing 1,528 league minutes over 36 appearances in 18 months and not quite matching the numbers he did as the main man in Wales.
I think people with hindsight would say that this was probably a failure with City finishing second in his first year to Jose Mouhrinho’s Chelsea and then being part of the disappointing team that finished 4th place in 2015-16.
For the next step, I am going to take my player similarity score and the TransferMarkt values to gauge the market value.
My similarity score uses 40 metrics and then calculates the z-score for each metric for all the players with the most similar players having the smallest absolute differences. More on it here if you are interested:
Here is how it looks with the admittedly flawed transfer values, plus a fee that was paid this summer for a move.
Overall the average transfer value is 18 million, with the sales at an average of 25.5.
There are some interesting names on the list, Tammy Abraham is a player that I liked as an option for Arsenal before he moved to Serie A but my interest in him has cooled with him looking like he is in the “good but not elite” category of player.
Che Adams from Southampton is a bit of a surprise, Beto who is now with Everton raises an eyebrow, and Aleksandar Mitrovic is really interesting.
Mitrovic is a bit older, but he fits the mold for a player that was pivotal for a team in the Premier League. His overall game is similar, he takes more shots, he has a bit less creativity, but better on ball numbers with similar defensive numbers. He moved to a Saudi club so the fee is on the higher side but in the range of 50 million pounds.
This deal would be one I would look at as setting the top of the range.
The other really interesting move that happened involving a Premier League club was Beto moving to Everton.
Toney and Beto have VERY similar numbers, they obviously come in different Leagues but it is not a shock that they are considered similar players looking at things. Beto is a bit younger and he did move to a club that has very serious and credible claims that they are not capable of paying a massive fee, that probably made it so Udinese couldn’t drive a super hard bargain trying to hold out for more.
Adding in an English premium, taking a little discount for the contract situation, looking at this transfer maybe 30-40 million seems like a reasonable number.
Same Age Comparable Players
The next step I am looking at here is similar to what we did above but looks at players over different seasons but at the same age as Toney last season rather than just any age from last season.
I pulled their transfermarket value during the season plus if they moved after the fee that they went for. I have also adjusted these for transfer inflation as well.
It is helpful to see that many of these players moved during the period after they were close to Toney. The players most interesting to me here are Wout Weghorst and Alvaro Morata.
Weghorst sticks out because we just got to see him play in the Premier League and I think his profile as a target man stands out.
I don’t think he is nearly as good as Toney with less creativity and less defensive work.
Morata also sticks out for me because we have also seen what he has done in the Premier League and I think it came with mixed opinions.
His stats at Atlético Madrid look better (except on defense) than Toney’s and fit a similar type of shape. He was a stats darling but caused lots of frustration for fans, especially with his time at Chelsea where he never lived up to the expectations.
Between these two players that comes to roughly a value in the 20-35m range. Adding in the other players that are comparable the average drops to 10-15m but I do think that is on the lower side.
So what’s a ‘fair’ price
Looking at these comparable players the high end is probably in the 50 million pound range, this is where Mitrovic and Bony point to.
The middle point is probably closer to 30 million looking at players like Beto, Abraham, Morata, and Weghorst.
The low end is probably not likely here as if it is below 30 million, I think Brentford are unlikely to sell if they are unable to get this fee.
What I am seeing from this is that the asking price from Brentford is £80 million for Toney and that looks very out of line with the work above. There are rumors that a fee more in the £50-60 million range could be where it settles but that is also still on the upper range of the estimate here.
I am interested in what is the max fee you would pay for Toney after looking at this