Spaniard Jon-Miquel Toral has Huddersfield Town in his sights again as he continues to bring lessons learned at Barcelona to Birmingham City.
The attacking midfielder, whose mother comes from Doncaster, is on loan at St Andrew’s from Arsenal, but spent his early years with the Catalan giants, who recruited him when he was just eight years old.
Now 20, he joined Arsenal along with Hector Bellerin for £300,000 in 2011 in a move which niggled then Barca president Sandro Rosell, who described the deal as “legal but a little immoral”.
Toral, who followed the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida and Ignasi Miquel in swapping the Nou Camp for North London, has yet to represent Arsenal at first-team level.
But he caught the eye in the 2012–13 NextGen Series and the 2013–14 UEFA Youth League.
Toral also scored six times in 20 appearances for Arsenal’s reserve team in 2013-14.
He spent the 2014-15 campaign at Brentford, who had won promotion to the Championship under Mark Warburton, and featured 37 times (10 starts) for the Bees, who made the play-offs, scoring six goals.
Three of them came in the 4-0 home win over Blackpool in February and the following month, he was on the mark in the 4-1 defeat of Town at Griffin Park.
Toral impressed sufficiently at Brentford for Arsenal to activate a 12-month contract extension option.
He went on the Gunners’ pre-season trip to Singapore before signing a season-long loan at Birmingham.
Toral has said he wants to impress enough to earn a new contract at Arsenal.
So far he has made 15 appearances (10 starts), scoring four times, most recently in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.
“I have to thank the team and the gaffer (Gary Rowett) for giving me confidence,” he said. “It’s been a great start for me but I need to keep it going.”
Toral is Brum’s second-top scorer and his ability in front of goal could be even more useful in the absence through injury of five-goal frontman Clayton Donaldson.
With loaned-out Town striker James Vaughan ineligible on Saturday, Rowett could again have to go with the inexperienced Dane Nicolai Brock-Madsen up front.
Hailed for the accuracy of both his shooting and passing, his impact has impressed Rowett, who is hoping he can now go from strength to strength.
“Jon has an instinct to read the game well and get in good positions,” said the Blues boss. “When he gets into those good positions, he’s got real composure.”