Ivan Toney
Brentford's Ivan Toney is available for selection again after serving an eight-month ban for breaking gambling rules. David Klein/Reuters

Brentford striker Ivan Toney has expressed his wish to eventually depart the Premier League side and join a bigger club.

This revelation comes amidst the England striker making his return to football after eight months out of the game due to a ban over betting breaches that took place from 2017-2021.

The Football Association (FA) suspended Toney last May for admitting to breaching 232 of the FA's betting regulations and handed him a £50,000 fine whilst warning him about his future conduct. Also, the striker was diagnosed with a gambling addiction.

His last appearance in a competitive football match was in a 1-0 loss against Liverpool at Anfield on 6th May 2023.

The 27-year-old was permitted to return to training last September, but he had to wait until 17th January 2024 to be available for match selection. To keep up his fitness, Toney has been involved in friendly matches behind closed doors for both Brentford's senior and B team, with him netting a hat-trick for the latter against Southampton Under-23s earlier this month.

Ahead of his return for Brentford's Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest this Saturday, Toney spoke on his long-awaited return to the pitch.

He told Sky Sports: "I've had my punishment and it's done. I feel like a free man. I can't wait to get back to enjoying playing football again this Saturday."

Toney then projected his aspirations of leaving Brentford to join a bigger club as early as this month.

He said: "You can never predict when is the right time to move elsewhere, but I think it's obvious I want to play for a top club. Whether it's this January that is the right time for a club to come in and pay the right money, who knows?"

The striker has been linked with potential moves to Arsenal and Chelsea, with both clubs in need of a reliable goal scorer. Toney has an impressive record in the Premier League since being promoted with Brentford for the 2021/2022 season, as he has netted 32 goals in 64 league games for the Bees.

However, Brentford are unlikely to sanction any sale of Toney in the January transfer window as the club are in urgent need of his services on the pitch. Thomas Frank's side have lost their last five Premier League games and currently sit 16th in the table, just three points above the relegation zone.

Toney's absence has been missed by Brentford this season as his availability in the club's first two seasons in the Premier League saw them finish 13th and 9th respectively. Without Toney recently, Brentford have suffered from a lack of cutting-edge in front of goal.

If Brentford were to let Toney depart this month, the club would only be interested in entertaining bids around the £100 million mark. This is likely to put off potential suitors such as Arsenal and Chelsea from making a move for the player right now.

However, there is every possibility Toney secures a big move in the summer as Brentford will have more time to scout a potential replacement then. Also, the Bees' valuation of the striker may drop by the summer transfer window as by then he would only have 12 months remaining on his current contract.

As well as securing a potential big move, motivation for Toney as he steps back onto the pitch will be to try and secure a spot in England's squad for Euro 2024 this summer. Toney's performances last season earned him a call-up to the England national team and he made his debut last March against Ukraine in a qualifier for the Euros.

With England skipper, Harry Kane, all but guaranteed to be Gareth Southgate's starting striker at the Euros, there is set to be one place for another striker in the squad.

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, Newcastle United's Callum Wilson and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah are in contention for that second striker spot at this moment, but if Toney can swiftly gather form in the second half of the season, he may possibly deputise Kane in Germany this summer.