Chris Wood has readily admitted he never envisaged a club triggering the £25m release clause in his contract at Burnley but, once Newcastle United activated it, he felt powerless to say no to Saudi Arabian-controlledclub.
“I knew the clause was sitting there but I don’t think anyone ever thought it would ever be triggered,” said the New Zealand striker, 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.’”
Burnley, and their manager Sean Dyche, most definitely did not want to sell Wood to a key Premier League relegation rival and, judging by the current mood at Turf Moor, he may not receive the warmest of welcomes when Newcastle visit on the final day of the season.
“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.”
Burnley and Newcastle are level on 11 points in 18th and 19th place respectively but Dyche’s team hold two games in hand.
“I’m only thinking about one thing and and that’s fighting hard to stay in this league with Newcastle,” said Wood after signing a two-and-a-half year deal. “I think we’ve got more than enough quality but we need to start showing that on the pitch and getting [positive] results sooner rather than later.
“I’m under no illusions Newcastle is going to be a big challenge for me but I know it can be potentially great for the club and for me. I’m a firm believer that you have to get out of your comfort zone to achieve greatness – or some sort of great footballing talent.”
Wood becomes Eddie Howe’s second signing behind Kieran Trippier, and the Newcastle manager is now hoping Sevilla accept his board’s renewed bid for their Brazilian central defender Diego Carlos.
Newcastle are planning to fly to Saudi Arabia for a warm-weather training camp after their game at Leeds 22 January because they have a break until their next game at home to Everton on 8 February.