Following a season in which Ivan Toney scored 26 goals and registered seven assists over 39 appearances in all competitions, Celtic’s interest in signing the centre-forward in the summer of 2020 would not have come as a surprise to many.
Indeed, the Bhoys were reported to have had a £5m bid rejected for the then Peterborough United striker, with the Posh holding out for a figure closer to the £10m mark in order to part with the hitman.
And, while Celtic were dithering, Brentford stepped in with a bid of an initial £6.5m – rising to £10m with add ons – for the striker, which the League One side swiftly accepted, seeing Toney sign a five-year deal with the Bees.
Speaking about the Bhoys’ interest in his services back in 2021, Toney revealed just how close he came to making a switch to Parkhead, stating: “Yeah, that was close. I spoke to a few people there and I spoke to the manager, but just couldn’t get a deal over the line.”
Instead, Celtic opted for a £5m swoop for West Ham United’s Albian Ajeti, a player who is already being linked with a move away from Glasgow after scoring just nine goals in 48 appearances for the Hoops.
Meanwhile, Toney has flourished at Brentford, scoring 33 goals and providing ten assists over 48 appearances in the Bees’ promotion-winning Championship campaign last season, and having bagged nine goals and registered two assists over 23 Premier League outings this term.
So impressive has the £31k-per-week forward been that the likes of Everton and Chelsea are believed to have taken an interest in the £28.8m-rated hitman, with the Peterborough United chairman, Barry Fry, suggesting that Brentford could demand a figure of up to £50m in order to part with the 25-year-old.
As such, considering the contrasting trajectories of Toney and Ajeti, in addition to just how close Celtic came to signing the former, it is clear to see that Peter Lawwell and the Bhoys had a nightmare when failing to pull the trigger on the centre-forward who Fry dubbed a “revelation” – a decision that has quite evidently cost Celtic dearly.