Former Manchester United star Louis Saha has backed Brentford striker Ivan Toney to succeed at Old Trafford if he were to make the jump in the summer.
Since his return to competitive action after a lengthy suspension due to a betting ban, Toney has barely missed a beat.
He has scored in three of the four games he has featured in since coming back. He found the back of the net against Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur and more recently, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The England international has been linked to United, with Erik ten Hag keen on signing a top-class talisman to share the goalscoring burden with Rasmus Hojlund.
The Peoples Person explored in detail why Toney would be a perfect fit for the Red Devils.
Saha spoke to Betfred on a number of topics including the possibility of Toney joining Erik ten Hag’s attacking department.
The ex-United man said, “I think he’s a terrific player. He’s a very confident lad and I’ve heard stories about how impressive and committed he was in the England camp when he was receiving his first few call-ups, so I’m sure he would walk into Carrington with the same level of confidence.”
“Those types of characters have energy, that’s for sure, because they have that confidence and give it to the other players in the squad. He’s a very unselfish striker, so for me, he has the class and capability to still improve and has that fire in his belly after his period out suspended.”
“I have no doubt that he would have an impact because he has the same fire as Rasmus [Højlund] and he definitely wants to make a point. He’s got a good level of experience in the Premier League, so it makes sense why the club would be interested in signing him and if he’s shown signs that he prefers to play for Manchester United because of their history and style of football, then this is a brilliant combination.”
Another player said to be on United’s radar that Saha opened up on is Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma.
Saha indicated that he would love to see his former side make a move for Mitoma as the winger offers something different.
“He’s a terrific player that shows a lot of composure and unpredictability, so he provides a lot of guarantees for his teammates and his manager. He knows where to position himself, he’s a very hard worker and you can see that he studies the game.”
“You can understand why he can easily adapt when you consider those features and he would be a perfect fit. I’m sure every club will be looking at Mitoma if he’s available because he’s such a big prospect. Regarding whether I’d like to see him move to Old Trafford or not is a really easy question to answer because he’s a terrific player.”
United restored their hopes of finishing in the top four after the incredible 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Sunday.
According to Saha, the Red Devils have given themselves a genuine chance of attaining Champions League football ahead of next season.
The Frenchman noted that team spirit is evident and there is a real belief that commanding a strong finish to the season is possible.
He delved into the issue of United’s defensive options and revealed that in his opinion, a pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane is the best bet for Ten Hag when everyone is fit.
Saha however clarified that it’s important to have up to four quality centre-backs as it not only enhances competition for places but also ensures there’s enough cover in case of injuries.
The 45-year-old pinpointed Diogo Dalot for praise and relayed that the Portuguese has demonstrated significant improvement this term and has shown he can be trusted to be United’s starting right-back.
He said about Dalot, “He will always have to prove it because there’s good competition for his spot. This season for me, he’s shown that he’s a quality player, especially going forward and he’s improving when it comes to his defensive duties. The potential is there, he’s playing for his country as well, and nowadays, there’s a lot of demands on players in his position and Diogo is helping his forwards find the confidence they need too.”
“Against Aston Villa, he put in the kind of performance that can help the whole team improve and congratulations to him, but this is just the start for him because he has to restart next week and the week after. It will be tough, but that’s part of the challenge and I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.”
The ex-striker was asked about Rasmus Hojlund’s upturn in fortunes and what could be behind the Dane’s rich vein of form.
Saha divulged that Hojlund has only grown in confidence and is developing a valuable relationship with his teammates on the pitch.
He expressed his pleasure at the maturity displayed by the United number 11 even at such a young age.
Saha weighed in on the ongoing debate about whether Old Trafford should be revamped or a new stadium built altogether.
Some United legends were recently interviewed and differed sharply on what approach Sir Jim Ratcliffe should adopt.
Saha remarked that while he loves the Theatre of Dreams and treasures its rich history, things may ultimately have to change in an effort to usher the club into a new modern era. He seemed to be in favour of constructing new grounds.
As the summer transfer window approaches, it was previously reported that United are keen on targeting players who are currently in the last year of their contracts such as Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David.
Saha hailed this way of thinking and pointed out that it could be a productive method.
“Regarding Jonathan David and Khéphren Thuram, I do believe they’re ready. I follow Khéphren as he plays next door to me and he has the power to play for any club in England, that’s for sure and it wouldn’t be a surprise to me at all if a move to England happens for him. For anyone who follows Ligue 1, they will understand that it’s the same for Jonathan David because he’s a really strong striker, he’s got a lot of quality and he’s a good player. If they move to the Premier League, both these players will need time to adapt but they’re certainly good players.”
He added, “Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies are two extremely experienced players, especially Kimmich. Kimmich would obviously be a great fit because he’s one of the fittest players in Europe and is capable of running games and is very slick. He and Davies are both quality players, there’s no doubting that.”
“Going for players with one year remaining on their contract is a smart strategy, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. At this moment, Mason Mount hasn’t been a success at Manchester United, so ultimately it’s dependent on the character of the players, their suitability to the Premier League, the style of the team and many other factors. ”
“Other teams will be interested in these players if their contracts are running down, so it won’t be easy for Manchester United to pull off any of these signings. If Manchester United are unable to offer these players Champions League next season, then that will be an advantage to certain other clubs looking to sign them.”
On whether Gareth Southgate should seriously consider taking Kobbie Mainoo to the Euros, Saha argued that such an achievement may come too early for the homegrown star.
He told Betfred that such pressure at a young age may do significant damage to Mainoo’s development. He warned that it’s not easy to make the jump to international football and caution should be exercised in the case of the sensational Mainoo.
Saha was asked about two other United players – Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes who have been linked with exits to Paris Saint-Germain and Saudi Arabia respectively.
The former United man warned Rashford that he would experience the same scrutiny he’s dealing with at United if he were to move to France.
Saha stated that nothing would really change for Rashford if he were to complete a switch to the Parc des Princes.
He clarified that only playing well will silence the critics.
Concerning Fernandes, Saha said that the skipper undoubtedly loves United and doesn’t seem like the type to abandon his football objectives in favour of a large paycheck.
Saha added that the playmaker may consider such an opportunity further down the line but as it stands, it’s clear his commitment and allegiance are to United.