Chris Wood has admitted he simply could not turn Newcastle down after being asked to swap Burnley’s fight for Premier League survival for their rescue mission.
There was general dismay at the Lancashire club when news emerged that the Magpies had activated the New Zealand international striker’s escape clause, understood to amount to £25million, and his departure for St James’ Park has left Clarets fans fearing the worst.
However, Wood insisted he had little option after being offered the opportunity to play a part in what the Tyneside club’s ambitious new owners hope will be the start of something big.
Asked about leaving Burnley at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, the 30-year-old said: “It wasn’t an easy decision. I just think it’s a great opportunity.
“I spent four-and-a-half great years there, every single year I really enjoyed myself there. My team-mates, the staff, the club as a whole was fantastic.
“To be honest, I wish I’d left when Burnley were further up the league, but that’s just how it is and it’s just how football is sometimes.
“Nobody can plan these sorts of things, you’ve just got to look at what’s in front of you and how you’re doing with football at the point in time.
“It was a case of this is a massive opportunity and a massive club, and something that I couldn’t turn down.”
Wood, who has 60 senior caps, is Newcastle’s second January signing after the £12million capture of England full-back Kieran Trippier, and a man who reached double figures for goals in each of his four full top-flight seasons at Burnley could prove a key figure in a tooth-and-nail battle.
The Magpies and the Clarets currently occupy 19th and 18th place respectively in the table, with Wood’s new employers hoping to climb out of the bottom three with victory over fellow strugglers Watford, against whom he could make his debut in the absence of the injured Callum Wilson, on Saturday.
Asked about his fee, which has been questioned in some quarters, he replied: “It’s one of those. You’re only as good as what the club wants to pay for you. If that’s what Newcastle feel I was worth at this point in time, that’s how it is.
While I'm out injured, I don't think you're going to get a better striker in the bottom half of the league than Chris WoodCallum Wilson on the Footballer's Football podcast
“You never know, in six months’ time you could be looking back and saying it’s a great deal and it will all be worth it.
“It’s a great team and a great squad and with all the ability to get ourselves out of this fight that we’re in. No illusions, it’s going to be very tough, but ultimately we’re not too far off being safe anyway, so that could eventually turn around at the weekend.”
Wilson, who is currently working his way back from a calf injury which is likely to sideline him for eight weeks, welcomed Wood’s capture on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
He told the Footballer’s Football podcast: “While I’m out injured, I don’t think you’re going to get a better striker in the bottom half of the league than Chris Wood. He’ll be a great addition, I think.”
Head coach Eddie Howe is hoping his latest acquisition will address the lack of potency which saw his side exit the FA Cup at the hands of League One Cambridge last weekend, when Dwight Gayle was also unavailable to him.
Howe said: “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. He will be a great fit for us.”
The Magpies hope to add further to their squad this month, with Amanda Staveley’s largely Saudi-backed consortium having set their sights on Sevilla defender Diego Carlos after receiving little encouragement in their pursuit of Lille’s Sven Botman.
Meanwhile, the PA news agency understands the Magpies are to head to Saudi Arabia for a warm weather training camp later this month.
The Gulf state’s Public Investment Fund, of which club chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan is the governor, holds an 80 per cent stake in Staveley’s consortium, which completed a controversial takeover in October last year amid criticism of the nation’s human rights record.
Premier League bosses belatedly approved the deal after receiving assurances about a separation between the owners and the state.