Leeds United: Search is on for a replacement for striker Wood

Thomas Christiansen.
Thomas Christiansen.
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Thomas Christiansen revealed that Leeds United had already begun approaching replacements for Chris Wood after conceding defeat in their fight to keep the striker at Elland Road.

Wood is set to join Burnley in a £15m deal today (August 21) having undergone a medical over the weekend and Leeds are under pressure to reinvest the money with the transfer window due to close in 10 days’ time.

Chris Wood.

Chris Wood.

United rejected two bids from Burnley but accepted a third valuation of £15m plus add ons after Wood turned down their offer of a new three-year contract on Friday night.

His decision to refuse an extension to his deal came after he travelled with Christiansen’s squad to a hotel on Wearside ahead of yesterday’s Championship game against Sunderland.

Wood was subsequently left out of the fixture at the Stadium of Light and posted a message on Twitter saying: “Due to strong interest from a Premier League team, the ongoing discussions with the club, and given that it has always been my ambition to play at the highest level, I don’t feel it is right that I play today.”

Leeds claimed an impressive 2-0 victory in his absence, beating Sunderland and maintaining Christiansen’s unbeaten start as head coach through goals in either half from Samuel Saiz and Stuart Dallas, and the United boss admitted afterwards that a list of potential signings had been drawn up once the possibility of losing Wood to Burnley first arose.

Stuart Dallas celebrates his goal at Sunderland.

Stuart Dallas celebrates his goal at Sunderland.

Christiansen, who saw forward Caleb Ekuban join a growing injury list during the second half yesterday, said: “It’s obvious that we need to sign a striker. We’re in a little bit of a hurry and we need to be fast. There is also the situation with Caleb.

“The good thing is we knew about the rumours a while ago. We knew there was a possibility to keep the player (Wood) but there was also the other possibility that happened on Friday and for that, everyone was prepared. We’d been working on looking at players and we have a list of players who we have approached.”

Ekuban, the Ghanaian who joined Leeds from Chievo in July and made his full league debut in place of Wood at the Stadium of Light, is being assessed after pulling up midway through the second half.

Christiansen said he had taken the decision to omit Wood against Sunderland once he learned that the New Zealand international had refused an attempt by Leeds to replace his existing deal which ran to 2019.

Wood remained with United’s squad until shortly before kick-off at Sunderland but travelled south ahead of a planned medical with Burnley today.

His arrival at Turf Moor on a four-year deal is likely to be confirmed in the next 24 hours and will follow on from left-back Charlie Taylor’s £7m move from Leeds to Burnley last month.

Christiansen said: “I cannot tell you everything I know but it’s right that he had an offer, a very good offer (of a new contract). He rejected it and if he rejected that offer it means his mind is not on Leeds.

“I only count on players who want to fight for the shirt, the badge and their team-mates. That was behind the decision not to have him in the squad. He travelled because there was a possibility he might play.

“Everyone can understand the situation. The possibility to go to a Premier League club is interesting for him and probably the money is also much better. He was a recognised and appreciated player at this club and everyone has to respect his decision. He’s a professional and if that’s his thought, we have to respect it.”

Despite the situation surrounding Wood, Leeds turned in their most convincing performance to date under Christiansen, whose side hold only one of three remaining unbeaten records in the Championship.

“I don’t know if it’s the best performance so far but it comes in the best moment,” Christiansen said.

“As I said in the changing room, there is no-one above Leeds. Everyone works for the same goal. This proves that we are not winning because of individual players but as a team.”