Since the PIF completed their takeover of Newcastle United in October 2021, the Magpies have gone from being embroiled in a relegation dogfight to sniffing out European football and silverware after clinching a place in the Champions League last term.
Although defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion have threatened to curtail their progress at the start of this season, they returned to business as usual with a 1-0 victory over Brentford on Saturday evening, as a Callum Wilson penalty secured their second three points of the season.
With Eddie Howe spearheading a Saudi revolution in the North East, enabled by the riches presented to him, Newcastle have spent their war chest of funds wisely since their takeover, going about their business in smart fashion, unlike Chelsea.
Their transfer dealings have been brilliantly astute and accurate, bringing in the likes of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Alexander Isak, Nick Pope and Sven Botman, the quality of signing that has enabled them to cement their place at the forefront of domestic and European football.
While the majority of their signings have reached hero status on Tyneside, others have become villains, and one of those was striker Chris Wood.
How much did Newcastle sign Chris Wood for?
In January 2022, Newcastle completed the signing of Burnley striker Wood for £25m, triggering the release clause in his contract following the news that sharpshooter Callum Wilson was ruled out for eight weeks with a calf injury.
With his side involved in a fight against relegation, Howe heavily relied on Wilson’s goals and the Englishman served up six in 15 appearances prior to his injury as the Magpies only recorded one victory in their first 20 matches.
In the absence of their star striker, Newcastle were staring down the barrel at what would be a detrimental relegation, but it wasn’t the signing of the New Zealand target man that would save their season, the big-money acquisitions of Guimaraes, Dan Burn, Trippier and Joe Willock would achieve just that, with the influential quartet becoming the driving force behind their impressive turnaround.
Howe would go on to lead his side to a remarkable 12 wins in their last 19 Premier League matches, steering them to an 11th-place finish and although Wood was signed to help them in their meteoric rise up the table, he failed to have the desired impact.
How did Wood get on at Newcastle?
Compared to Shola Ameobi by journalist Luke McCormick after signing, the 31-year-old was expected to become their focal point, playing to the strengths of Howe’s direct football with his height and physicality.
During his 14-year spell at the club, Ameobi made almost 400 appearances on Tyneside, chalking up 84 goals and 38 assists, and although that was far from clinical returns for a striker, the Nigerian was often cut as a divisive figure despite his longevity and the commitment he gave to the club.
Wood was a divisive figure himself, not just with the Toon, but particularly while at Leeds United between 2015 and 2017. Indeed, he became the subject to criticism from their passionate supporters, similar to what Ameobi faced at Newcastle.
Speaking to Goals on Sunday [via Leeds Live] in 2020, the New Zealand international lifted the lid on his time at Elland Road, saying:
“At Leeds, I had a bit of a rough patch, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, but in the end, it came good and it was a good time [in my career],”
Wood managed to use criticism as fuel during his time in West Yorkshire, putting a disappointed 2015/16 campaign behind him by scoring 27 goals in the following season under Garry Monk.
An impressive rate of scoring at at Elland Road – 44 in 88 appearances – earned him a £15m move to Premier League Burnley in 2017, where he formed a strong partnership with Ashley Barnes as the duo were crucial to the Clarets top flight bid
After joining in 2018/19, the “exceptional” striker, as dubbed by journalist Jordan Cronin, reached double figures for goals in three consecutive campaigns and despite only scoring three times in the first half of the 2021/22 season, Howe hoped a move to Newcastle would help recapture his goal-scoring touch.
Although he didn’t aid the Toon’s survival bid with his goals, scoring just twice in 17 appearances, Wood did draw plaudits from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville for his contributions off the ball.
Speaking on his self-titled Gary Neville podcast, the former defender said: “He had a big impact on that game today, the little flick-ons that he wins in the last 10 minutes that just keep the ball alive in that corner, means that it’s not coming back at you all the time.
“He had a big impact on that game today, the little flick-ons that he wins in the last 10 minutes that just keep the ball alive in that corner, means that it’s not coming back at you all the time.”
Last season, with Newcastle fighting for top four, Wood didn’t really get a look in as Isak and Wilson shouldered the goal-scoring responsibility, but in pursuit of regular football, he decided to join Nottingham Forest on loan in January before making the move permanent this summer for a fee of £15m.
After being bought for £25m in 2022 and now already being sold, it’s fair to say that Newcastle had a nightmare with this transfer, even if he did initially evoke memories of Ameobi.