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Chris Wood may not be the marquee signing Newcastle fans wanted or expected. But it may suffice for the time being.
The Burnley striker is edging closer to a switch to the Magpies. It comes after his release clause, thought to be around £25m, was activated.
Here are five reasons why the transfer makes sense:
Newcastle need a striker
First and foremost, Newcastle are in desperate need of a striker. Top scorer Callum Wilson once again finds himself sidelined with a calf injury. With the club’s main forward out, a new face is undoubtedly needed if Eddie Howe’s men have any chance of survival.
Allan Saint-Maximin simply cannot do it on his own, while fellow attacker Joelinton has found more success in midfield than up front. Jacob Murphy certainly doesn’t suit the position, while Dwight Gayle is evidently nowhere near the manager’s plans.
It is clear that Howe needs players who have played regular Premier League football. Wood is one such player. The 30-year-old is now in his fifth consecutive top-flight campaign with Burnley. Moreover, the striker has played 60 times for his country. He even boasts Europa League experience, playing in the 2011/12 group stages for Birmingham City.
Wood’s towering presence will also be useful when it comes to holding up the ball. It is a job he has done expertly over the years. That will allow the likes of Saint-Maximin to burst past him and into the final third.
Clinical in the air
Kieran Trippier, the club’s first signing of this new era, was undoubtedly brought in for his attacking traits just as much as his defensive ones, perhaps even more so. He may not be as clinical as fellow right-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold or Reece James in the final third, but he knows how to cross a ball.
Wood will be patiently awaiting such deliveries. The New Zealand international is known for his headed goals. He has netted 50 times in the Premier League, and 17 of those have come using his head.
If Wood’s ability in the air will help score goals, then it will most certainly also help prevent them. The forward has won 93 aerial battles in the league this season. The total places him top of the list, ahead of Brentford’s Ivan Toney in second with 91.
Newcastle’s 42 goals conceded is the joint-worst. Bottom side Norwich have also conceded 42 in the current league campaign. Importantly, the Magpies have struggled to defend set pieces. At 6 ft 3 in, Wood will undeniably help stop this worrying trend.
Taking from a relegation rival
It may not have been the main reason the Magpies sought out Wood, but taking a rival club’s leading striker is always a bonus, particularly in the middle of a relegation battle. The forward has played in all 17 of Burnley’s league matches this season.
His three goals so far place him top of the club’s goal-scoring list for strikers. Only winger Maxwel Cornet (6) has more. The two sides are level on points, but the loss of Chris Wood undoubtedly weakens the Clarets in their bid for survival.
Most Premier League goals scored for Burnley since Chris Wood joined the club in 2017/18:
◉ 49 – Chris Wood
◎ 30 – Ashley Barnes
◎ 9 – Jay Rodriguez
Way out in front. 😬 pic.twitter.com/BMRRe2YUhv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 11, 2022