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Red Bulls linked to English forward Ivan Toney...or are they?

Reports and club statements indicate Red Bull to battle it out with Celtic, Rangers for prolific League One striker

Oxford United v Peterborough United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Reports out of the UK this week indicate that English League One side Peterborough United are aggressively shopping their star striker Ivan Toney. Clubs rumored to be circling around the 24-year old include Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers as well as...a Red Bull team to be named later?

Peterborough’s extroverted ownership group - consisting of tourism tycoon Darragh MacAnthony and the notoriously outspoken and press-hungry former coach Barry Fry - were variously quoted the Daily Mirror this week saying that clubs were circling around Toney and that both the player and club were expecting a move to happen soon. Fry stated that “agents (are) telling me Rangers and Celtic are interested” as well as West Bromwich Albion and that the club were in communication with Toney himself about his preferences should official bids emerge.

But MacAnthony upped the ante further on Twitter (god bless British lower league owners) by implying there was another interested party and while he did not name the club when asked by a follower, he did offer a less-than-subtle profile:

While it may sound fanciful that a Leipzig team challenging for Champions League spots would sign a 24-year old third division player, Toney has an enticing resume and has been valued by some as having a potential £15 million transfer price tag. Toney has emphatically re-charged a highly promising career at Peterborough with 40 league goals in 78 appearances since signing in 2018 after a challenging stint with Premier League club Newcastle United, where he was loaned out to lower division teams an astonishing six times in just three seasons.

But a look further back into Toney’s history implies that the New York side of the Red Bull operation is the one that may have their eyes on him. Prior to his career detour with Newcastle, Toney was one of the most sought-after teenagers in England. Emerging from the academy of his hometown club Northampton Town, Toney scored 13 league goals before the age of nineteen and was on the radar of many clubs throughout Britain and Europe.

One of the clubs that came closest to signing the teenage Toney was Wolverhampton Wanderers, then under the direction of Kevin Thelwell, who was hired as the head of sport at New York Red Bulls this past winter. Wolves had a transfer bid accepted in late 2014 but were forced to back out after Toney failed a medical examination. But Thelwell’s Wolves operation were connected with Toney again during the 2015-16 season as a potential suitor for one of his many loans away from Newcastle.

If the dots emerging from the British tabloids this week begin to connect, Thelwell might finally get his man after all these years. Red Bulls fans will probably be pretty open to the idea of bringing on another prolific League One striker with something to prove.