Chris Wood won’t save Newcastle from Premier League relegation but could doom Burnley

Here are some names that go together: Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho, Tanguy Ndombele, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Jack Grealish, Harry Maguire, Riyad Mahrez, Romelu Lukaku (again), Andriy Shevchenko… and Chris Wood?

That is a list of the most expensive signings in the Premier League by age. Pulisic is the most expensive 20-year-old in England, Lukaku is the most expensive 24- and 28-year-old, and after moving from Burnley to Newcastle on Thursday for £25m, Wood became the 30-year-old most expensive in England. the history of the richest league in the world.

Are you laughing already? No? Well, you can start now.

The acquisition of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, immediately made the club the richest sports franchise on the planet. The news had Geordies in party keffiyehs outside St. James’s Park, bragging about how much money their club suddenly had. Dreaming of a high-speed transformation into a potentially bigger and better version of Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain, with future Ballon d’Or winners dancing up and down the pitch… now they have Wood.

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The behemoth Kiwi scored 46 goals in his previous four full Premier League seasons, scoring at least 10 goals in each. The wood was consistent, the wood was good, in an elegant way, like a battering ram. But Wood is 30, just the age when most strikers suddenly stop scoring goals, which is exactly what has happened. Through 17 games this season, he has scored three times. He’s taking fewer shots and worse shots than ever before. He is 29th in the league in total expected goals, according to site FBref, and 39th in xG per 90 minutes. He has been one of the worst starting forwards in the league.

While I can’t prove it scientifically, it feels safe to say that no other football club in the world would have paid £25m for the chance to sign Wood to a contract. But here’s the thing: Wood could get injured in training tomorrow, never play a single minute for Newcastle United, and it could still be worth it.


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