New Zealand’s Chris Wood (that little country that made Lord of the Rings) is set to become one of the few players from New Zealand to play in the Premier League amid speculated interest from Everton.
Everton are set to make a big move for Leeds United striker Chris Wood in the summer with reports saying he could go for £15m which would make him the highest valued New Zealand footballer.
The 25-year-old is the leading goalscorer in the Championship with 24 league goals in 36 appearances.
Even if Wood doesn’t join a Premier League club, he could be playing there next season for Leeds as they are currently fourth in the table with 69 points.
The top two teams get promoted to the Premier League while the third-sixth teams playoff to become the third promoted team.
But it looks likely that Wood will be joining a top Premier League side next season as the player has been shortlisted for the Championship’s player of the year.
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Wood joined Leeds United from Leicester City in 2015 for £3m. He made seven appearances and scored one goal for Leicester in the Premier League in the 2014/15 season before moving to Leeds.
He had made 26 appearances for Leicester the year prior to that in 2013/14 in the Championship and scored four goals.
However, his form for Leeds has been impressive. Last season, he scored 13 goals and made four assists in 36 appearances.
This season he has almost doubled his goal tally and he still has around 10 more possible games to play.
Wood would join fellow kiwi Winston Reid who plays for West Ham in the Premier League.
Born in Auckland, Wood started out in his senior career playing for Waikato FC in the New Zealand Football Championship.
From there he joined Hamilton Wanderers where he scored 16 goals from 17 appearances. A stunning goal scoring return which led to West Bromwich Albion spotting him in 2009. From there he moved to the other side of the world to England. He went on to play at various clubs on loan spells from 2009- 2013 until he finally signed on a permanent move to Leicester City.
As a New Zealander myself I’m proud to see that New Zealand football is starting to get recognition and more and more young kiwis are playing the sport. As ‘down under’ the number one sport is rugby.
Wood has made 47 appearances for the New Zealand national side ( The All Whites) and has scored 19 goals.
Wood, who stands at 191cm tall (6 ft 3 in), would be a like-for-like swap for Lukaku in the physicality department. Although they would not be getting quite the same proven goal scorer that Lukaku is.
I doubt that Wood will be a first choice striker for Everton if Lukaku leaves, and I suspect that Everton have other targets in mind as well.
But, it could be worth the gamble for Everton. They won’t have to splash out a ton of money on Wood and if he can replicate his goal-scoring form in the Premier League then he would be a great signing.
There aren’t a lot of young proven goal scorers at the top level available in the transfer market. So much so that 34-year-old veteran striker Jermain Defoe has recently earned a call-up to the England national side. There seems to be a serious lack of top English strikers in the Premier League.
While Everton may hope to replicate Leicester’s success in signing former non-league and Championship player Jamie Vardy who ended up scoring 24 goals last season in the Premier League.