“Strange” £25m signing was money down the drain
- Takeaway 1: Newcastle’s astute and calculated transfer dealings have propelled them into Champions League football, with a top four finish last season.
- Takeaway 2: Chris Wood’s signing was seen as a move to weaken relegation rivals Burnley, but he failed to make a significant impact and was ultimately sold for an excessive fee.
- Takeaway 3: Despite his decline in performance, Wood’s sale represents Newcastle’s remarkable transformation under Eddie Howe, with the club now aiming for sustained success in the Premier League.
The transfer window has drawn to a close, and with it the furore across the country as fans welcome exciting new additions and agonisingly watch star players slip away.
The Premier League has seen a great deal of change since the market pitched its stalls back in June, with the English top-flight setting a new world-record league transfer expenditure; £2.36bn.
When Newcastle United underwent the PIF club takeover in October 2021, the genesis of a new, exciting era, all knew that lucrative additions would soon be welcomed with regularity, but few foresaw the level of astuteness and diligence that has catapulted the Tyneside outfit into Champions League football not two years on.
Last season, the Magpies, led by the grounded and erudite Eddie Howe, bagged a spot in the top four ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, and while money has been spent, their business has been conducted with care and calculation; this summer, seven divisional rivals finished the window with a higher net spend.
The same could be said for the summer of 2022, and while the club did make a raft of signings the prior January, months after the transformative takeover, the moves were shrewd and purposeful.
Who was linked to Newcastle in January 2022?
Reforming the backline, Howe got to work and sealed deals for Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn and Matt Targett – the latter on loan and the others costing a combined £25m – while Bruno Guimaraes, the centrepiece of the midfield to this day, required a £40m outlay.
Chris Wood was also signed from Premier League relegation rivals Burnley for no small sum of £25m; the dovetailing of all these acquisitions resulted in a rise from the lower end of the league ladder and a comfortable 11th-place finish, with 49 points.
The rest is history, and the Toon will have no complaints after such an emphatic ascent, but given that the likes of Ousmane Dembele, James Tarkowski and Yves Bissouma were all on the radar, there is a sense that the club could have made several signings who would still play prominent roles to this day.
Regardless, things worked out to say the least, but one deal that fell by the wayside is the expensive deal to sign Wood, with the New Zealand international shipped on after making a minimal mark at St. James’ Park.
Why did Newcastle sign Chris Wood?
Joining from Burnley, there’s a feeling that as Howe and technical director Dan Ashworth made their move to sign a new focal frontman, the 31-year-old was targeted to weaken Sean Dyche’s Clarets, who were direct relegation rivals at the time.
TalkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor remarked at the “strange, strange signing”, also saying that “there was talk of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and all these superstars coming and they’ve gone and got a striker who’s scored three goals this season.”
Admittedly, it worked out; the Magpies took flight and have been soaring ever since while the Turf Moor side were left moored in the bottom three and fell into the Championship after six successive years in the Premier League, albeit returning at the first time of asking last term.
However, the 70-cap All White only managed to post five goals from 39 outings for United across his 12 months at the club, scoring twice in the latter phase of the 21/22 league campaign and the same again before last season’s winter transfer window, also netting against Tranmere Rovers in last term’s Carabao Cup.
The £80k-per-week forward’s most notable moment for Howe’s high-rising side probably came against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup last season, placed through on goal in the 81st minute with the Magpies trailing 2-1 before inexplicably cannoning his shot above the goal.
Perhaps such a blunder was enough to dissuade Howe from selecting him again; a few weeks later, he was moved on to Nottingham.
How much did Newcastle sell Chris Wood for?
The fact that he was shipped out on loan in January with a £15m obligation to buy in the summer – which has now been activated – emphasises how wide of the mark this transfer misdealing truly was.
However, given that Wood has only scored twice from 12 appearances for the Tricky Trees (albeit missing 11 matches at the end of last season due to injury), it looks like Newcastle cashed in for an exorbitant amount for a player whose best days are ostensibly behind him.
Once a consistent striker on England’s biggest stage, the Auckland-born ace plundered 53 goals from 165 displays for Burnley and was the starring talisman as they trod water above the danger zone year upon year, hitting double digits in the Premier League from 2017/18 – 2020/21.
Once described as a “first-class” forward by Premier League icon Peter Crouch, Wood is arguably the biggest blunder of the Howe era at Newcastle, but given the money recuperated, it certainly could have been a lot worse.
What is Chris Wood worth now?
Indeed, according to Football Transfers’ valuation model, Wood is now valued at just £4m, having seen his cutting edge in front of goal dry up like a puddle in the sun over the past few years.
He’s even been said to have been “a bit lost” at St. James’ Park prior to his sale by pundit and former Hibernian striker Tam McManus, who acknowledged that he was a “decent squad player’ but unlikely to ever reclaim a role of significance.
His situation was compounded by the club-record £63m signing of exciting forward Alexander Isak in August 2022, who has been described as “a unicorn for his mixture of size & technical ability” by Kev Lawson.
The prolific success of Callum Wilson also pushed Wood further onto the periphery, who has not really proved Howe and Ashworth wrong in their decision to ship him on since his sale, despite scoring a last-gasp headed winner for Forest against Sheffield United in the Premier League last month.
Still a competent forward at top level, Wood’s signing and subsequent sale was symbolic of the arresting development at Newcastle under Howe’s stewardship.
Signed to aid the club in their travails against relegation, the Magpies transcended their struggles in quick time and now look set for sustained pursuit of silverware and success in the upper echelon of the Premier League, and Wood got left behind.
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