(Image Credits: Jon Toral's Social Media Handle)

Indian Super League (ISL) Cup winners Mumbai City FC have significantly bolstered their squad with the acquisition of Spanish attacking midfielder Jon Toral. Toral has inked a two-year contract with the Islanders, marking a new phase in his career after playing exclusively in Europe.

The addition of Toral aims to fill the gap left by Greg Stewart, who departed in January 2024. Combined with the recent signing of Brandon Fernandes, the creative partnership between Toral and Fernandes promises to propel Mumbai City FC to greater heights.

Here are five essential things to know about Mumbai City FC's exciting new signing.

1) Early Development at La Masia

Toral's football journey commenced at the esteemed FC Barcelona academy – La Masia. Known for its exceptional youth training facilities and nurturing young talents, La Masia played a pivotal role in honing Toral's skills and shaping his football career. His potential and technical prowess quickly caught the attention of scouts from prominent clubs.

In 2011, Toral's promising abilities secured him a move to Arsenal FC, where he joined their youth ranks. During his time at Arsenal, Toral competed in various competitions, including the Premier Reserve League, Premier League 2, and the UEFA Youth League, marking the onset of his professional career outside Spain.

2) Impactful Loan Spells in England

Toral's time at Arsenal from 2014 to 2017 included several loan spells aimed at gaining first-team experience. His initial loan to Brentford proved highly successful, featuring in 37 matches where he scored six goals and provided two assists. His contributions were crucial in Brentford's journey to the Championship play-offs, showcasing his versatility and impact on the pitch.

In the subsequent 2015 season, Toral joined Birmingham City, where he thrived even more. He made an impressive debut by scoring a header in a 2-1 victory against Reading, followed by a spectacular left-footed strike from outside the penalty area in the next game against Burnley. His composure and vision were evident from the outset, earning praise from Birmingham's manager Gary Rowett as 'the best player on the pitch' for his creative flair.

Toral's standout moments included a memorable dipping volley against Ipswich Town, which secured Birmingham City's Goal of the Season award. Despite a season-ending injury, his impressive tally of eight goals and four assists earned him accolades such as Players' Player of the Season and Supporters' Player of the Season.

3) Diverse European Experience

After successful loan spells with Brentford and Birmingham, Toral briefly joined Granada CF in Spain and Rangers FC in Scotland before securing a permanent move to Hull City for the 2017-18 season. At Granada, Toral faced challenges with limited appearances, but his loan spell at Rangers provided valuable experience in Scottish football.

During his three seasons with Hull City's first team, Toral featured in 56 matches, scoring four goals and providing ten assists. He later returned to Birmingham City for a second spell before moving to Greece to join OFI Crete FC. Toral showcased his versatility and adaptability, playing in various leagues and countries.

Most recently, Toral's stint at OFI Crete in the Greek Super League highlighted his maturity and experience, further solidifying his reputation as a skilled midfielder. The 29-year-old played 78 matches for the Greek club, scoring 15 goals, including seven across all competitions.

4) Impressive Career Statistics

Throughout his career, Toral has amassed impressive statistics, showcasing his technical prowess and football intelligence. With 275 games played across various leagues and teams, he has scored 46 goals and provided 35 assists from youth to senior levels. Known for his ability to score with both feet and head, he consistently poses a threat in the penalty box.

Standing at 6 feet tall, Toral's commanding presence on the field is undeniable. His silky touches and creative flair have consistently made him a valuable asset to every team he has played for, significantly enhancing their attacking capabilities. Despite primarily being an attacking midfielder, the fleet-footed player can also operate on both flanks, adding versatility to Mumbai City FC's midfield.

5) Personal Background and International Eligibility

Toral's personal background adds a fascinating dimension to his football journey. Born to an English mother, he has been bilingual since childhood, fluent in both English and Spanish. This dual heritage qualifies him to potentially represent Spain or England at the international level. Toral played for Spain's under-17 team in a friendly against Italy in 2012 and was also part of their under-19 setup.

During his time at La Masia, Toral formed a close bond with Arsenal and Spain star Hector Bellerin. Together, they made the move from the Barcelona academy to Arsenal, shaping their careers together.

Honours and Achievements:

Manchester United Premier Cup with Barcelona Youth: 2009–10
Birmingham City Player of the Season: 2015–16
Birmingham City Players' Player of the Season: 2015–16
Birmingham City Goal of the Season: 2015–16