The transfer that could hand Leeds United major relegation battle boost
Leeds United’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League this season could be significantly aided by a transfer that doesn’t even involve them in the coming days.
Chris Wood. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
The Whites currently find themselves eight points clear of the drop zone after a stuttering first half to a campaign that has been ravaged by injury absences.
And while the January transfer window has been a fairly quiet affair at Elland Road thus far, that’s not to say that other developments in the top flight couldn’t have a positive effect on Marcelo Bielsa’s survival ambitions as well.
Much of the rhetoric and discussion heading into this month surrounded Newcastle United and how much of their new Saudi fortune they would look to spend in an effort to drag themselves clear of their current relegation struggles.
Already there have been signs that the Magpies’ new owners are eager to splash their cash, with the capture of England international Kieran Trippier for around £12 million representing a notable marquee signing to kick-off the post-Mike Ashley era.
But while the defender’s arrival was enough to excite a fanbase that feels it has been woefully mistreated for far too long, the reality of the situation is that Newcastle are in desperate need of reinforcements across the pitch - and not least in attacking areas.
The Toon Army are set to be without leading man Callum Wilson for around eight weeks after the striker suffered a calf tear over the festive period, and in their hunt for a suitable replacement, they have turned their attentions to Burnley - and former Leeds - hitman, Chris Wood.
A deal worth around £25 million is reportedly edging ever closer to completion, and should it get over the line - as it is increasingly expected it will - then it could represent a real boost for onlookers at Elland Road, as well as those at St. James’ Park.
While it’s somewhat understandable that Newcastle have made a play for an international forward with proven Premier League pedigree and double figures in each of his last four top flight goal-scoring campaigns, there’s almost something quite Machiavellian about their raid on such a close relegation rival.
Make no mistake, as much as the Magpies will gain, Burnley will lose, and given the precarious position that the Clarets find themselves in at the moment, the prospect of relinquishing the spearhead of their attack at such a crucial juncture in the season could be enough to doom them - especially if they are unable to find a suitable replacement before the end of January.
And the looming threat of the drop has been reflected in a sizeable shift in their survival odds already.
As per Oddschecker, the Clarets are now 4/6 to go down, alongside Watford at 4/7, and Norwich City at 1/12.
By contrast, Leeds sit at a fairly lengthy 5/1, and Newcastle, Wood’s likely destination, are priced at 13/10.
It may not affect them in a direct sense, but such an obvious blow to one of the sides bidding to claw the Whites back into this season’s relegation dog-fight can only be good news for Bielsa’s men.