It is almost exactly four years since Arsenal’s interest in signing Jon Toral from Barcelona was first reported.
Since then the youngster has spent much of the ensuing period recovering from a succession of injuries, but, now 20, he appears to be enjoying his football again, as evidenced by his impressive hat-trick for his loan side Brentford against Blackpool last night.
Toral has had to be patient for opportunities this season and has primarily been used as a substitute for Brentford. His performance last night showed what he is capable of producing when involved from the offset, however, and could see him receive further starts for the Championship side over the next few weeks.
What will happen to Toral next season is still a matter of some debate. His Arsenal contract expires at the end of June but, based on his development this campaign and his obvious potential, it seems likely that the club will offer him an extension, possibly for one or two seasons.
The midfielder, who has already represented the first-team in friendlies, could make his competitive debut in the Capital One Cup next season with a loan spell, possibly at a struggling Premier League side, another possibility.
Toral is keen to emulate his compatriot and close friend Hector Bellerin by progressing to the Arsenal first-team squad, but, whilst an opening for Bellerin was created by the departure of Bacary Sagna, circumstance is unlikely to be quite so kind to Toral.
Arsenal possess several first-team players capable of operating in Toral’s preferred central-midfield positions, whilst Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem will both be hopeful of edging closer to senior action next season.
Toral undoubtedly possesses much ability but, at present, it is difficult to envisage him not suffering the same fate as Kristoffer Olsson, who left Arsenal permanently last month in search of greater first-team opportunities elsewhere.