Leeds United look to replace Chris Wood with swift forward thinking

GONE: Forward Chris Wood completed his move to Burnley on Monday afternoon. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
GONE: Forward Chris Wood completed his move to Burnley on Monday afternoon. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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LEEDS UNITED have tabled a bid for NEC Nijmegen striker Jay-Roy Grot but look set to fail with a move for Middlesbrough’s Rudy Gestede as their hunt for new strikers intensifies on the back of Chris Wood’s exit.

Leeds hope to reach a deal for 6’3” Grot after submitting an offer for the 19-year-old but Boro are resisting efforts to take Gestede from The Riverside before the end of the transfer window.

Sources on Teesside indicated last night that a bid by Leeds for Gestede – who the Elland Road club are believed to value at £6m – had been rejected after the forward recovered from a slow start to his career with Boro to force his way into their starting line-up.

Gestede has started all four of Boro’s Championship games this season and manager Garry Monk, the former United boss, is expected to repel interest in him during the final stages of the summer window. The 28-year-old has been at The Riverside since January, when he arrived at Boro in a £6m move from Aston Villa.

That transfer was completed at a time when Victor Orta, Leeds’ director of football, was head of recruitment at Boro.

Grot, however, has emerged as a more realistic option and drew attention from Leeds after United owner Andrea Radrizzani promised to plough £15m raised from the sale of Wood to Burnley back into the first-team squad.

Thomas Christiansen.
 Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Thomas Christiansen. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Holland Under-19 international, who turned professional with NEC two years ago, played 20 times for the Dutch side last season and scored five goals.

His deal in Nijmegen expires next summer.

Burnley broke their transfer record to sign Wood on a four-year contract yesterday. Leeds have received an initial fee of £15m, a sum which could rise to £18m with add-ons.

The deal robbed United of a forward who scored 27 times in the Championship last season and was the club’s top scorer for two years running.

A profile like Chris Wood’s is good to have but also players who can adapt, another type of player who can combine a little bit more and run deep. These are the possibilities we’re looking at right now.

Leeds United boss, Thomas Christiansen

In a statement, Radrizzani said: “For the past month we have tried to negotiate a new three-year contract with Chris Wood.

“We offered the player strong financial terms including reasonable exit clauses, lower than the fee we demanded for a transfer this summer, should the club not reach the Premier League in a certain timeframe.

“However the player’s preference was to leave Leeds United and as he only had one year left on his contract after this season, we had to protect the club and ensure we did not sell Chris below our valuation.

“We want players at Leeds who consider us a big club and we want players who are committed to our vision to return to the Premier League.

Middlesbrough's Rudy Gestede

Middlesbrough's Rudy Gestede

“Supporters can rest assured that monies generated from the sale of Chris Wood will be reinvested into adding to the 12 signings we have made already.”

Leeds will look to bring in at least two strikers before the transfer window closes a week on Thursday.

Radrizzani and Orta are presently in Italy and head coach Thomas Christiansen hinted that the club would look closely at the continental market in the search for new forwards. He also implied that United would broaden their remit beyond like-for-like replacements for Wood.

“It’s going well,” Christiansen said. “Victor is in Italy with the chairman and I got some news that they’re working good and we will soon have some news.

“A profile like Chris Wood’s is good to have but also players who can adapt, another type of player who can combine a little bit more and run deep. These are the possibilities we’re looking at right now.

“We know the prices of homegrown players. They’ve very high. We have to have that in mind and also the quality we can sign abroad. These two combinations we need to look at.”

The pressure on United’s transfer business was increased on Saturday by a foot injury suffered by Caleb Ekuban, their £500,000 signing from Chievo.

The forward limped out of the second half at Sunderland having made his league debut in place of Wood.

“It’s a bone in his foot but the exact situation we don’t know,” Christiansen said. “In a couple of days we will have more information. I hope it’s not so bad.”

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