Newcastle poised to make Burnley’s Chris Wood second signing of Saudi era

By Fabrizio Romano
Chris Wood in action for Burnley against Newcastle last month.
Chris Wood in action for Burnley against Newcastle last month. Photograph: Richard Lee/Rex/Shutterstock

Newcastle are poised to make Chris Wood their second January signing, with the striker scheduled for a medical after the club agreed to meet the release clause of about £20m in his Burnley contract.

A centre-forward has been a priority for Eddie Howe after Callum Wilson suffered a calf injury and Wood, whose Burnley contract runs to 2023, provides Premier League experience and is no stranger to a relegation fight.

Wood has three goals in 18 league appearances this season, considerably down on his average of a goal broadly every three top-flight games. If all goes to plan the 30-year-old, who has agreed personal terms, will make his debut at home to Watford on Saturday in a match that could go some way to shaping Newcastle’s season.

The first signing of the Saudi Arabian-led era at St James’ Park was the right-back Kieran Trippier and the club are pushing to make other purchases. Newcastle are keen on the Monaco centre-back Benoît Badiashile after failing to persuade Lille to sell Sven Botman. A second young French player, the striker Hugo Ekitike, is also in their sights, although their opening proposal is expected to be rejected by Reims and a deal could be difficult this month.

Badiashile, a France Under-21 international, has played more than 100 times for Monaco since his debut in November 2018 and has been a Europa League regular this season. He suffered an injury against Nantes last weekend and tests on Tuesday indicated he should return in two to three weeks. An update on the 20-year-old’s fitness could be key to his future.

The Reims forward Hugo Ekitike (left) and Monaco’s Benoît Badiashile in action last November. Both players are Newcastle targets.
The Reims forward Hugo Ekitike (left) and Monaco’s Benoît Badiashile in action last November. Both players are Newcastle targets. Photograph: François Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images

Botman had been Newcastle’s first-choice central defender but the club had more than one bid rejected. West Ham are also interested in Badiashile and similarly are among the clubs targeting Ekitike, although Newcastle’s pursuit of the France Under-20 international is the most advanced.

Reims value Ekitike at about €30m (£25m) and want a sell-on clause in any deal for the player, who has come through their ranks. Ekitike has scored eight goals and provided two assists in 17 Ligue 1 appearances this season in a team 14th in the table. He made his first-team debut in October 2020.

Chelsea are continuing attempts to bring back Emerson Palmieri from his loan at Lyon by offering about €4m in compensation. Palmieri is their preferred option to replace the injured Ben Chilwell but Lyon have rejected two previous approaches from the Premier League club.


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