All Whites striker Chris Wood looks to be on the cusp of a big money transfer to Newcastle United, one of the sleeping giants of English football. Michael Burgess looks at why the club are chasing the Burnley forward.
Wood has achieved remarkable consistency for Burnley, managing double-digit goals in each of the past four seasons. Only seven other players across the Premier League have replicated that feat, including global stars like Harry Kane, Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy.
It's a staggering achievement considering Burnley rarely dominates possession and Wood generally has minimal opportunities in each match.
Wood is a dominant presence in the air.
Physical prowess is valued in the combative Premier League – more so than La Liga or Serie A – and few are better at converting crosses slung into the box than the 30-year-old.
Across two successive seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) nobody scored more headed goals than Wood in the Premier League (six and five respectively). He is 17th on the all-time EPL list and sixth among current players.
Hunted by Eddie Howe
The freshly appointed Newcastle manager has long been an admirer of Wood. Before he got the job at the Magpies, Howe was at Bournemouth, where the Kiwi proved a constant thorn in their side.
In the Premier League Wood grabbed three goals and one assist in five matches against the Cherries, helping Burnley to four wins against their southern rivals.
Overall, the All Whites' striker has scored against 21 different Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, Spurs, Arsenal and Everton.
Avoiding another Joelinton gamble
Wood is a proven goal scorer, who has thrived with every new challenge across 13 years in England. In that way, he is seen as less of a gamble than many of the other foreign-based options that have been touted.
Newcastle paid a club record 40 million pounds for Joelinton in 2019, but the Brazilian has struggled to adapt to the world's toughest league. He has only managed seven goals in 87 Premier Leagues, which pales in comparison to Wood's tally of 50 in 153.
Howe is trying to rebuild the culture at Newcastle, after a chaotic few seasons, with a heavy turnover of players.
Wood is highly respected for his professionalism and work ethic, and has been part of a Burnley side that has overachieved in recent seasons - with their strong character and unity seen as a key factor in that success.
Wood, who has captained the All Whites regularly since 2014, will also bring leadership to the mix.
Avoiding the drop
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, spent more than 300 million pounds on an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle United last October.
That takeover has dramatically increased expectations around the North East club and their mega-rich new owners are desperate to avoid relegation and a battle in the Championship next season.
Goals are key, and their main striker Callum Wilson is out for at least two months with a calf injury. The Magpies have observed what Wood has done for Burnley, with his goals directly contributing to 26 Premier League wins and nine draws since 2017.
If Newcastle can sign Wood, they will instantly weaken Burnley, one of three other clubs, along with Watford and Norwich City, currently embroiled in a relegation scrap with the Magpies.
Although Wood has been less productive so far this season (3 goals in 17 games) he is a vital presence for the Clarets. He has been their leading scorer in each of the past four seasons and is also their all-time highest Premier League marksman (49 goals).
Value for money
Wood's reported release clause of 20-25 million pounds is a hefty sum, but still economical for a striker of his standing and a drop in the bucket by Premier League standards.
Arsenal sunk 77 million pounds on Nicholas Pepe, who has only managed 15 goals in 69 games, while Sebastien Haller (45 million pounds) didn't catch fire at West Ham (10 goals in 48 games).
Leeds United invested a club record 27 million pounds in Spanish international Rodrigo, who has so far netted 9 times in 38 matches.
Wood is 30, but only celebrated his milestone birthday a week ago.
He's been durable across a long career, with few serious injuries, and seems to cope well with the physical toll of English football.
The Waikato product is also seen as a late bloomer, after not getting a regular Premier League opportunity until he was 26.