Up next is the Chris Wood transfer from the summer window. In need of a new striker, Burnley moved to sign the New Zealand international from Leeds Utd. There were reports that Wood refused to play for Leeds again in order to push through a move to the Premiership, such was his desire to play at a higher level although he has denied this. Prior to joining Burnley, Wood had not started a Premiership game, so the move is a step up for him.
We take a look at Wood’s transfer in more detail and whether he is capable of playing at a higher standard.
Nationality: 54 caps 24 goals
Transfer Fee: £15mil
Contract Length: 4 years
2016/17 League Stats: 41 starts (3 sub appearances) 27 goals (4 assists) – for Leeds Utd in Championship
2017/18 League Stats: 6 starts (1 sub appearance) 3 goals (0 assists) – including 1 goal in 3 appearances
After losing their talisman Andre Gray to Watford, Burnley moved quickly to sign Chris Wood after a really impressive season with Leeds in the Championship.
Under Garry Monk, the whole Leeds team had a good season and were unlucky to miss out on the Championship play offs. Their end of season form however petered out as they only managed 1 win from their last 8 games. They eventually missed out by 5 points.
Wood was one of the standout performers as he scored 27 goals in 44 starts. He was also the League’s top scorer, putting him ahead of the likes of Glenn Murray, Tammy Abraham and Dwight Gayle, all of whom scored 23. Such an impressive goal scoring record was always going to make clubs in the Premiership take notice and if anything I’m surprised more clubs weren’t interested in the New Zeland international.
Wood lost his way for a couple of years at Leicester, during which time he also had an indifferent loan spell with Ipswich but before that period he proved he is more than capable of being prolific at Championship level.
- In 2011/12 he scored 9 goals for Birmingham from 13 starts and 10 substitute appearances
- In 2012/13 he scored 20 in 39 starts for Millwall and Leicester combined
So Wood is far from a one season wonder at Championship level and there is a strong argument to suggest that he deserved a serious shot at the Premiership a lot sooner than this season. Before this season, he did make 10 Premiership appearances whilst at West Brom and Leicester but all were substitute appearances and totalled around 130 minutes of football. So he was never really a real chance at this level.
Goal scorers are the hardest thing to find and plenty of clubs in England and even further afield are showing that they are lacking a consistent goal threat. Some clubs may have been put off by the level he was playing at but finding the back of the net on a regular basis is a nice habit to be in it and the quality to his game he had shown surely made him worth a punt to many more teams than just Burnley.
£15mil isn’t peanuts but these days it isn’t a massive amount either to most Premiership clubs. Plenty of clubs, from say around mid-table to mid-bottom half of the table could comfortably afford such a deal, especially when looking at some of their other business. These are the clubs that should be looking at talents like Wood in the Championship. The step up maybe isn’t as big as sometimes stated.
I guess a Championship striker isn’t seen as fashionable these days though compared to an export from the continent. It was therefore probably appropriate that Wood ended up at a club like Burnley as they aren’t a club who are concerned with what’s fashionable and are more focused on signing players which fit the mold of what it takes to play for Burnley and what they are trying to achieve. Wood fits this well.
Wood excels in many of the areas you’d expect from a Burnley player. He’s brave, runs down plenty of lost causes, has a never say die attitude (no better reflected by 2 late equalisers already in his first handful of games, to secure a point against Spurs and West Ham) and he works extremely hard for the team.
Add in qualities such as an ability to finish and good off the ball movement; he has a number of attributes required for any striker at any level. He’s not the fastest but he possesses good strength and a good leap which makes him even more of a handful in the air and a great hold up option.
Technically he’s not the greatest and he may not be considered an all round striker but he certainly has a lot more to his game than to be merely seen as a target man. He’s also far more prolific than you’d expect from a target man.
Wood has displayed many of these qualities already this season as he’s picked up where he left off for Leeds. He’s shown he can mix it in the Premiership, not only is he providing a decent goal rate, his all round contribution has added to Burnley’s team and it’s improved them.
As good as Andre Gray is, he’s not prolific and has a habit of prolonged dips of form, especially since he’s made the step up to the Premiership. Whilst Burnley’s other striking options aren’t the most prolific either. Wood has comfortably become Burnley’s biggest threat already.
He has 3 goals in 6 starts, including a debut goal at Wembley versus Spurs. Burnley as a team have only scored 8 goals in 9 games. So Wood is already providing a big percentage of Burnley’s goals.
Vokes has impressed in spells and scored a great brace on the opening day against Chelsea but hasn’t found the net since. He has shown several times, for club and country, that he can come up with big goals but he struggles to produce on a consistent basis. He’s a decent rotation option but nothing more.
Ashley Barnes has had his problems with injuries and like Vokes, has never been a regular Premier League goalscorer either. Both put a shift in but it’s debatable as to whether Barnes is good enough to be playing week in, week out in the Premiership. It’s no surprise that hee has struggled for game time this season.
Nahki Wells was an interesting signing. He’s gives Burnley something all the other strikers don’t, pace. He didn’t have his best season at Huddersfield though despite the club’s promotion. He scored only 10 league goals in 34 starts and 12 substitute appearances. It surprised me that he got a move to the Premiership on the back of these figures. He’s yet to feature for Burnley due to injury but the jury is definitely still out as to whether he will be able to cope with the step up.
No question, Chris Wood is Burnley’s main man when in comes to goal scorers and the strikers. He has made an immediate impression. It’s inevitable that he will have dips in form and may miss a few games as a result but at the moment he looks undroppable, mainly because he’s comfortably better than Burnley’s other options.
He doesn’t look out of place in the Premiership and you wouldn’t know that it was his first proper season at this level. He’s clearly playing with confidence gained from last season and just carried his form on.
I’m sure many clubs will be looking at his transfer and thinking that they missed a trick.
It will be interesting to see how he responds when his confidence does take a hit though. That will be the real test, when he comes out of this run of form and has to start again to regain it. Only then will we see it Burnley have a serious player on their hands.
Right now it’s hard to see Wood being anything other than a hugely positive addition to Burnley.
Dyche has done a great job at Burnley and despite losing big names like Michael Keane and Andre Gray, Burnley look stronger this season. Due in no small part to Chris Wood and the improvement he looks in attack
He knows how to find the net and that’s invaluable to any club, let alone Burnley. Not a lot of fuss has been made about Wood’s transfer but it could be one of the best deals of the summer.
How highly do you rate Chris Wood? Great signing or an average one? Leave your thoughts below.