As the news emerged on Tuesday evening that Newcastle United had triggered the release clause for Burnley striker Chris Wood, there were some fans who seemed underwhelmed by the news. But the arrival of Wood ticks many of the boxes the Magpies need right now and it could prove to be an ingenious capture come the end of the season.
The New Zealand attacker has already travelled up to Tyneside for his medical and the move could be completed quickly as Eddie Howe was desperate to bring in a striker ahead of the weekend’s relegation six-pointer clash against Watford at St James’ Park. With the side’s regular number nine, Callum Wilson sidelined for a while, Wood’s arrival will not have come at a better time.
He is, of course, a proven goalscorer at this level, in a team that is not blessed with quality or the financial resources to better their league position. Newcastle do possess better attacking players than Burnley and although the forward only has three Premier League goals to his name this season, he is bound to get much better service, especially with the dazzling Allan Saint-Maximin playing alongside him.
The 30-year-old has spent the last four-and-a-half years with the Clarets and in that time, he has found the back of the net on 50 occasions, scoring at least 10 goals in each of his four full seasons in Lancashire. This is why Howe has acted swiftly to bring him in. He knows that provided service, Wood will score goals and plenty of them.
There will be some displeased Magpie fans at this signing as it isn’t as high-profile as they were hoping for due to their new financial situation. But first they must understand, the true new era of the club does not begin until they have ensured that they remain in the top-flight for next season. Wood’s goals in recent years have contributed to Burnley avoiding the drop and that is the kind of experience Newcastle needs for the dogfight that the second half of the campaign will bring.
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Some comfort Newcastle fans can take from this deal is that they are strengthening, whilst weakening a direct rival. Both clubs are currently sat on 11 points, but Burnley have two games in hand as a result of Covid-19 postponements. However, now that they are losing Wood, Maxwel Cornet is away at the African Cup of Nations and Ashley Barnes is still injured, the Clarets’ immediate future looks bleak.
In recent weeks, particularly in the home match against Manchester United, Newcastle showed glimpses of quality in terms of how they played and created chances, but lacked that cutting edge in the final third which Wood will likely provide. Howe is still believed to want to add another striker to his squad before the end of the window and it is believed that the club are chasing Reims’ Hugo Ekitike, a very promising talent.
For now, he will be happy to get one fresh attacking face through the door to cover Wilson’s absence and assist in trying to pull the club away from relegation danger. They are currently two points away from Watford in 17th, but they have a game in hand. A victory against them on Saturday could change things dramatically.
Wood will get a crack at his old side this season in what could well be a relegation decider as they square-up at Turf Moor on the final day of the campaign.
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