It’s no secret that Newcastle United will be on the lookout for a new striker this summer as Eddie Howe looks to bolster his vastly improved squad for the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
Several names have indeed been linked with the Magpies in recent months. Ivan Toney, Hugo Ekitike, Darwin Nunez, Taiwo Awoniyi and Patrick Schick have all been rumoured to be on the verge of a move to St James’ Park in the past and with the club harbouring lofty ambitions to get on top of the English football pyramid then acquiring a top-quality and consistent goalscorer could well set them on the way to achieving those aims.
There’s a strong reason Eddie Howe is prioritising a striker in the summer window. Callum Wilson who has indeed proven a valuable member of the squad for a long while and still surprisingly remains their top scorer this season with six goals despite being out of action since before the new year – his last appearance was against Manchester United in December. The former Bournemouth striker’s constant injury troubles mean he may no longer be relied upon to fire the club and their new owners to where they aspire to be in the future.
Before Wilson’s injury, the club were desperately on course searching for a striker to challenge the England international for a starting spot in January. They were close to sealing a deal for Stade de Reims’ young wonderkid forward Hugo Ekitike. However, a move for the 19-year-old did not materialise as he felt he wasn’t ready to leave the Ligue 1 outfit so soon in his rapid development.
Who knows, the club may move for him in the summer again providing he is up for the challenge but it was soon to be another window in which Newcastle failed to acquire targets despite their new and exciting takeover.
After their long search, they instead went for Burnley’s Chris Wood – along with Bruno Guimaraes, Matt Targett and Dan Burn – locating an almost secretive release clause in the New Zealand international’s contract and activating it to steal him from their relegation rivals. A £25m move certainly frustrated Sean Dyche and the Claret’s faithful but left some Toon Army fans bewildered.
Wood could have no complaints, in fact, it was a move in which he felt he could further establish himself as a proven Premier League goalscorer for a bigger club after impressing at Turf Moor where he hit an impressive 49 goals in five seasons.
Four months on though, and the 30-year-old has failed to live up to his price tag and set St James’ Park alight. In fact, out of all of Eddie Howe’s January investments, the 23-goal New Zealand star has proven the biggest disappointment. However, that says more about how well the other four signings have done, rather than how poorly the Kiwi striker has performed.
In 14 games for the Geordie outfit, he’s only registered two goals with one of them coming from the penalty spot. In all competitions, he’s only hit five so far making this Premier League campaign his most unproductive.
The club are indeed blessed that their stunning form in recent weeks has not only been via their significant defensive improvements under Howe but that the goals are flying in from elsewhere on the pitch, not least their new star player in the Brazilian maestro Bruno Guimaraes who’s registered three so far.
While Wood has become a nuisance up top, battling and engaging opposition defences and making sure they are kept busy, his efforts in front of goal have proven few and far between.
As stated previously, if Newcastle United are to reach the pinnacle of English football in the next few years, then they would surely require a consistent goalscorer and their £25m-man has so far flattered to deceive.
What will of course be Wood’s saving grace is that he has been quickly thrust into the side considering Callum Wilson’s injury and the club’s lack of a capable back-up – Dwight Gayle just isn’t at the required level to lead the line.
The former Burnley star wasn’t provided with a bedding-in period to slowly acclimatize himself to Eddie Howe’s system, but the questions regarding his suitability to Newcastle’s lofty and ambitious cause will still remain while’s in this tepid form.
As harsh as it may seem, the Toon Army want a Shearer-type figure leading the line again, someone who can fire the club to relive the glory days back then.
It still remains to be seen whether Chris Wood is up to the job. Yes, the club will be in the market for an elite forward this summer, but the Kiwi star still deserves the time to come good. He could well become a valuable option off the bench when things get sticky in matches next season. He offers something different and allows Newcastle to mix their game up with his physicality.
Eddie Howe has often played with two strikers during his managerial career, which is something he might move towards with the Magpies. If he does that, it will increase the player’s importance in the squad. To be fair to Wood, he has worked tirelessly since his arrival at St James’ Park. He’s brought more than just goals. He’s defended from the front and got more out of the players around him.
£25m just isn’t worth chucking down the drain just yet, fans should water down their huge expectations. He’s only been around for four months and that’s why they must be patient with, and continue to hold the belief that the Auckland-born striker could become one of the key figures in helping the club achieve their rather exciting aspirations.