Following the news about Mark Warburton’s departure from Rangers, Jon Toral will be hoping to impress under new management again soon.
Having flourished at Birmingham last term, he received plenty of praise for his performances and collected a clean sweep of accolades too. Championship football seemed the perfect chance to prove his suitability to deal with physicality in England, a test he passed with flying colours.
Despite suggestions that he’d be given an opportunity in our pre-season campaign, he was loaned out to Granada. He played sporadically for the La Liga side, who struggled for consistency and found themselves at the foot of the table.
It was not a surprise then, that his loan deal was cut short after a lack of regular minutes.
Fast forward a month and he was in Scotland with Rangers, where Gedion Zelalem found himself last term. He was handpicked by Warburton, who had him at Brentford previously.
Is his position under threat now?
Toral has shown glimpses of individual brilliance but so far, they’ve been too infrequent. Supporters largely appreciate his ability but stress the importance of a more physical player in midfield, which he doesn’t offer.
Bournemouth’s Emerson Hyndman is in a similar boat to Toral, but is a year younger. The main difference between the duo is, Hyndman visibly works hard and continues to add more goals to his game. Toral on the other hand is deceptively brilliant, in a similar way to Mesut Özil. Excellent as a number ten but out of possession is often accused of being passive and not helping out enough defensively.
There are a few reasons for this. He has a tendency not to dive into tackles but his discipline is poor and the challenges he makes are usually unconvincing. Given his injury history, it’s partly understandable that he’s reluctant to be rough in battles for possession.
He himself admitted the fact it’ll take him some time to get 100% match sharpness, and on a few occasions it seemed as though Warburton left him on the pitch too long when the team were in need of fresh legs.
Just because he’s an Arsenal player doesn’t mean extra expectation should be placed on him – and solely him – to perform.
Despite this, he’ll have his own personal targets to achieve and will be hoping to achieve consistency, justifying a regular starting berth in the future.