Having made the headline-grabbing switch from Burnley to Newcastle on Thursday morning, Chris Wood has conceded that nobody thought another club would be willing to meet his £25m release clause.
Despite the fact that the New Zealand international has only three goals in 21 appearances in all competitions this season, he has become the second signing made under the auspices of Newcastle’s Saudi-led consortium. The group, headed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), completed their controversial takeover in October, with Kieran Trippier marking Newcastle’s first foray into the transfer market under their new owners when he arrived from Atletico Madrid last week.
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While the main rationale for signing Wood is the continued absence of Callum Wilson – ruled out for eight weeks with a calf injury – as Eddie Howe’s side battle desperately to avoid relegation, the transfer also hurts a direct rival. Burnley are currently 18th, one place above Newcastle on goal difference, and also struggling to escape the drop.
Speaking after the move was announced, Wood admitted that even he didn’t see it coming. “I knew the clause had been sitting there since we agreed the new deal two and a half years ago,” he said.
“I get on playing football. I don’t know the specifics but knew it was there.
“It’s pretty standard to have a clause. Some people have them, some people don’t. I don’t think anyone ever thought the clause would be triggered, but that’s the way it is sometimes.”
In a statement on the club website, Burnley confirmed that the release clause had been met. Running to 70 words in total, it was a terse farewell to a player who has spent the last four and a half seasons at Turf Moor.
As well as admitting his surprise, Wood expressed his delight with the transfer. “This is a very exciting opportunity for me and I’m delighted to be a Newcastle United player,” he said.
“I have played at St James’ Park a few times and it’s an amazing place, so to have the chance to represent this club with those incredible supporters behind me and my teammates is very special.
“The club and manager have been first class during this process and I really can’t wait to get onto the pitch and repay the faith they have in me, especially with a vital part of the season ahead of us.”
Explaining his reasons for leaving Burnley midway through the season, Wood added: “I’ve been at Burnley for four years, it got a bit much where I was in my comfort zone, I knew what it was about and you never do anything great in your comfort zone.
“To be extraordinary and take my game to the next level, to challenge myself at a massive club like Newcastle was the right option… once I knew there was interest it was a no-brainer with everything around it.”
Wood will be available to face Watford this weekend in what could be a potentially massive fixture in the relegation fight. Watford are 17th on 13 points, two ahead of Newcaste and Burnley, and have lost their last six league fixtures on the bounce.
Asked about Wood’s arrival, Howe suggested that it had come at “a crucial time” in the season. “Chris is an important signing for us… I’m very pleased we have been able to move quickly and bring him here,” he said.
“He is a very dangerous attacking threat, has a physicality and character that I really like, and he has vast experience in the Premier League. He will be a great fit for us.”
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