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New Zealand international Chris Wood is well respected in football and has worked hard to turn himself from a Championship loan-star into a Premier League regular but eyebrows have been raised over the last day or two with the announcement of his potential move from Burnley to one of their relegation rivals, Newcastle.
The surprise doesn't have anything to do with Newcastle wanting to sign the 30-year-old forward, who is a proven Premier League player, it's far more about the price the Magpies are willing to pay. A fee of between £20-25m has been agreed due to a clause in the striker's contract as Burnley did not want to sell the player for any price but couldn't stop their forward from leaving if that clause was met.
Newcastle have been struggling for goals this season and depend heavily on Callum Wilson, a striker that is prone to injuries. Signing Wood will allow Newcastle to take some of the burden off Wilson and the pair could develop a strong partnership should Newcastle want to play two up front against modern trends. Wilson is more of a poacher, deadly in the penalty area, while 6'3″ Wood is a traditional target man, good in the air and able to hold up the ball as other make runs off him.
However, Wood has hardly been prolific in front of goal this season and his current employers have scored even fewer goals than Newcastle this season, though, the Clarets have only played 17-times to Newcastle's 19, So why are the Magpies so willing to splash the cash on Chris Wood?
Chris Wood: Stats & Analysis
Chris Wood's career started to develop once he made the move to West Brom in 2009. Despite only playing 21 times in the league and scoring just the 1-goal, Wood enjoyed several successful loan spells during his 4-years with the Baggies, playing and scoring regularly for the likes of Brighton, Birmingham, Millwall and finally Leicester.
The Foxes singed Wood permanently following a brief but successful loan spell at the club and over the next 2-years he notched 12-goals in 52 league games before eventually losing his first-team place and once again going out on loan, this time to Ipswich where he failed to impress.
Leeds took a chance on Wood in 2015 and this is where he really showed his ability in front of goal, notching 41 goals in 83 league games before moving to Premier League side Burnley in 2017. Many doubted Wood's chances of making an impact in the top-flight of English football but he soon proved them wrong.
|Premier League Season||Appearances||Goals||Assists|
- Right Foot = 23
- Headers = 17
- Left Foot = 9
- Penalties = 3
As for Chris Wood's accuracy, the striker has had 269 shots, 130 of which were on target making for a shot accuracy of 48% and an average of 0.32 goals per game. How does those stats stack up against current Newcastle striker Callum Wilson? Well, the pair have played a very similar amount of games in the Premier League with Wilson just in front by 17-matches. Wilson has a goals per game average of 0.35 but a shot accuracy of 41% and has missed a lot more big chances compared to Wood (54 to Wood's 10), but Wilson has a lot more assists to his name and creates far more big chances for his teammates.
Poor business model or pure desperation?
Every man and his dog know about Newcastle's new oil-rich owners and how they have money to burn but could this be going against the Magpies as they look to bring in new recruits that will aid their survival chances? The simple answer is, yes.
According to transfermarket.co.uk, Chris Wood is currently valued at £5.4m which is 4-5 times under the price that Newcastle are apparently willing to spend. Given the fact that Wood is 30-years-old and therefore has no resale value coupled with the fact that he has only scored 3-goals in 17 league games this season, it is no wonder his current market value is so low.
Wood reached his market value peak in May 2018 when he was considered to be worth £16.20m, which was the same month the player helped guide the club to a 7th-place finish in the Premier League, but even that record value is some way off the fee Newcastle are going to folk out.
Clearly, Newcastle are desperate to add a proven Premier League striker to their ranks in the January transfer window to give themselves a better chance of escaping the drop, so on that level it makes sense to pursue a striker like Chris Wood. Also, if you take away one of your main relegation rival's prominent goal threats then surely you will have a better chance of finishing above them at the end of the season? But that only works if you don't both finish in the bottom three.
Having new rich owners and spending large transfer fees and handing out over the odds wages on long contracts for players that don't significantly improve your squad is a very dangerous game to play and a poor business model. Clubs like Everton have learned the hard way that paying over the odds and handing out big wages for players that don't hold any resale value will only cost you in the future if you don't gain any significant success in the first place.
The Toffees have seen the likes of Bolasie, Walcott, Tosun, Ramirez, Delph, James, Schneiderlin, Iwobi and Sigurdesson all come into the club either on big transfer fees or picking up massive wage packets and none have or will be sold for more money than they cost.
The likes of Tosun and Bolasie both remained at Everton and saw out their big-money contracts rather than leaving the club for a lower wage elsewhere, not their fault but it highlighted a poor business model that appears to have caught up with the Toffees this season. Everton appear to have learned from their lesson as they plan to sell 28-year-old Luas Digne to Aston Villa for a big fee and have already brought in two young full-backs that have potentially huge sell-on values and won't be on big wages compared to the senior players.
Newcastle's owners may feel that it is worth spending over the odds in the short term if it keeps them in the Premier League and may change their business model in the future but the Finacial Fair Play rules aren't so forgiving and deals such as this one could come back to haunt the Magpies in the near future. Our issue would be that a deal for Wood is guaranteed to work out as we have seen from his goals return so far this season and that paying anywhere near £25m for a 30-year-old in the current climate reeks of desperation.