All White Wood's worth soars towards $50m

Author
NZ Herald Staff,
Section
Football,
Publish Date
Monday, 21 May 2018, 8:55AM
Chris Wood scored 10 goals in 24 games for the Clarets this season. (Photo/ Photosport)
Chris Wood scored 10 goals in 24 games for the Clarets this season. (Photo/ Photosport)

One day soon, Chris Wood could be New Zealand football's first $50 million man.

Off the back of his first full season in the English Premier League, Wood's value on the open market in England is set to skyrocket.

There's no sense Wood has any desire to leave Burnley — it's a club that has been perfect for him, and manager Sean Dyche has got the best out of the All Whites striker. But his agent is certain to push for a contract upgrade over the off-season.

Wood is already among the top four or five earners at Turf Moor, but he will be entitled to a revised deal off the back of his 2017-18 deeds.

Goals are a precious commodity in the Premier League — for a striker, often the only commodity that matters — and Wood has delivered.

He scored 10 Premier League goals in just 24 appearances (20 starts), a ratio matched by few others last season and in a team that rarely dominated possession nor created copious chances.

"Chris has been extremely impressive — really, really good," said Burnley Express sports editor Chris Boden. "He hit the ground running right from the start with that goal against Spurs [at Wembley] and continued from there. His output across the season was brilliant, especially considering his late arrival, the injuries and the time away with New Zealand.

"He really made a difference ... it was telling that his two months out with injury coincided with Burnley's worst run of the season."

Boden, who has covered the Clarets for more than two decades, has no doubt that Wood's market value has soared.

"He came in for a club record [estimated £15 million] and didn't take long to prove his worth," said Boden. "Now he would be a lot more ... not that Burnley are interested in selling."

Boden estimates Wood would now be worth at least £20 million ($39 million).

"He will be into the twenties now," said Boden. "It's where the market is at, and there is also a sense that he is only going to improve."

Wood's 2017-18 achievements probably won't be recognised by the Halberg Awards panel but they should be.

It's hard to think of any other New Zealand sportsperson who has achieved more in the past 10 months on a global stage.

Wood had never even started in the Premier League before, and was saddled with the expectation of a club record fee. Some critics in England insisted he had joined the wrong club, given the competition for places among strikers at Turf Moor and Burnley's style of play.

His season was interrupted by All Whites commitments, including the physical and emotional toll of the Peru World Cup playoffs and injuries.

But he thrived, helping Burnley to seventh in the Premier League and a spot in Europe.

"What stood out the most was his finishing," said Boden. "If he got a chance he tended to take it. He didn't waste many opportunities. And most of his goals were important ones, not the fourth in a 4-0 win, for example."

Wood was clinical. He averaged a goal every 163 minutes, the sixth-best in the Premier League and a superior ratio to the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

The Waikato product also struck 71 per cent of his shots on target, a figure topped by only one other player (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) among players who scored nine or more goals.

And he produced in the big moments, with his goals contributing to seven Burnley wins and two draws. Among them the last-minute strike against Spurs, the winner against Crystal Palace, an 85th minute equaliser versus West Ham, the decider against Everton (in his first game back from injury) and game-turning goals against Leicester and West Brom.

And the good news? The 26-year-old will only get better. Boden feels Wood can improve his all-round game, lift his aggression and will also benefit from Dyche's notorious pre-season regimes.

"There is more to come from Chris," said Boden.

Chris Wood 2017-18

• Games:

24

• Goals:

10

• Shots:

34

• Shots on target:

24

• percentage:

71

Minutes per goal

• Chris Wood:

163

• Romelu Lukaku:

179

• Roberto Firmino:

185

• Alvaro Morata:

188

• Eden Hazard:

203

ON AIR: D'Arcy and Goran

4PM - 7PM