All Whites striker Chris Wood is switching English Premier League clubs after signing with Newcastle United for a reported NZ$50m fee.
Newcastle United strengthened its attacking options — and significantly weakened those of a relegation rival — by signing Wood from Burnley on Friday.
Newcastle triggered the release clause in Wood's contract to make the New Zealand striker the club's second signing of the January transfer window, after England right back Kieran Trippier from Spanish champion Atlético Madrid on a £100,000 (NZ$200,000) per week salary (Wood was earning £72,000 per week at Burnley).
Wood's arrival is another signal of intent by Newcastle's new Saudi Arabian ownership, which has more resources than any other club in football and has chosen to poach possibly the best player of a direct rival for relegation.
Wood has only scored three times this season but has regularly reached double figures in goals over recent years. He will fill the gap vacated by Callum Wilson, who could be out until March because of a calf injury.
Wood himself admitted he never thought the release clause in his contract, tied to that NZ$50m fee, would ever be triggered.
"I knew the clause was sitting there but I don't think anyone ever thought it would ever be triggered," Wood told a press conference hours after becoming the most expensive 30-year-old signing in Premier League history. "But that's the way football can be sometimes... You never know, in six months' time you might look back and say: 'That was a great deal.'"
Now, Wood faces the prospect of facing his old club on the final day of the Premier League season - Newcastle is in next-to-last place in the league, a point above Norwich and tied for points with Burnley. Despite that awkward situation, Wood insists the deal hasn't resulted in any sour feelings from his old club.
"For me, there's no bad blood," Wood said. "It wasn't an easy decision and, to be honest, I wish I'd left when Burnley were further up the league but that's just how football is sometimes. I spent four and a half years great years at Burnley. Every single year I really enjoyed myself there. My teammates, the staff and the club as a whole were fantastic.
"I have nothing but great memories of Burnley but it was a case that this was a massive opportunity at a massive club and something I couldn't turn down. It's a great opportunity for me."
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe praised Wood's signing, especially its fortuitous timing.
"Chris is an important signing for us at a crucial time," Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said, "and I'm very pleased we have been able to move quickly and bring him here.
"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," Howe added. "He will be a great fit for us."
Newcastle has only won one game all season — against Burnley.
- with NZME