Leeds plan to move on quickly as Wood joins Burn­ley

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - CARL LIVESEY

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 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.

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 Wear­side ahead of Satur­day’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.”

Chris­tiansen said: “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.

“He (Wood) re­jected (the con­tract of­fer) and if he re­jected that 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.

“We’d been work­ing on look­ing at play­ers and we have a list of play­ers we have ap­proached.”

HEAD coach Thomas Chris­tiansen said the search to re­place Burn­ley-bound Chris Wood had al­ready be­gan as Leeds United sol­diered on re­gard­less by shin­ing at the Sta­dium of Light.

Wood be­came just the sixth player in United’s his­tory to net 30 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son and the Cham­pi­onship’s lead­ing goal-scorer was al­ways go­ing to be in big de­mand this sum­mer.

Af­ter re­ject­ing two bids from Burn­ley, Leeds fi­nally suc­cumbed to a third of­fer of £15m plus add-ons af­ter 25-yearold Wood re­jected United’s of­fer of a three-year ex­ten­sion on his cur­rent deal which al­ready ran un­til 2019. Wood was sub­se­quently left out of Satur­day evening’s fix­ture with a view to hav­ing a med­i­cal yes­ter­day.

A club al­ready low on strik­ers gave a league de­but to 22-year-old sum­mer re­cruit Caleb Ekuban, who spent last year on loan at Par­ti­zani Tirana in the Su­perli­gia in Al­ba­nia.

Leeds, though, still served no­tice that they re­main ca­pa­ble of push­ing for pro­mo­tion to the best league of all as goals from two other at­tack­ing forces in Sa­muel Saiz and Stu­art Dal­las recorded an im­pres­sive vic­tory.

Play­ing as a lone striker as part of United’s 4-2-3-1 sys­tem, Ekuban squan­dered a de­cent open­ing in the first half but grew in stature as the game pro­gressed only to pull up in­jured with just un­der half-an-hour to go.

Ke­mar Roofe, who has been used by Leeds as a winger, re­placed the striker as United’s at­tack­ing op­tions be­came lighter still.

With Leeds hav­ing at least an­other £15m in the kitty once Wood seals his move to Turf Moor, Chris­tiansen left no doubt that the New Zealand in­ter­na­tional would be re­placed.

“It’s ob­vi­ous that we need to sign a striker,” said United’s head coach. “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. Ev­ery­one was pre­pared. We’d been work­ing on look­ing at play­ers and we have a list of play­ers who we have ap­proached.”

The iden­tity of United’s tar­gets are un­clear but the club were known to be in­ter­ested in Ham­burg’s Ger­man in­ter­na­tional striker Pierre-Michel Las­soga though the 25-year-old’s wages looked to be prov­ing a stum­bling block to a move to El­land Road.

In the mean­time, an­other Ger­man, goal­keeper Felix Wied­wald, helped Leeds move fifth with their third con­sec­u­tive clean sheet.

The Ger­man was re­quired to pro­duce a de­cent save to smother a low shot from Lee Cat­ter­mole in the 39th-minute, by which time United were al­ready 1-0 up through the ex­cel­lent Saiz, signed from Span­ish side Huesca last month for £3m.

A mis­take by Lamine Kone al­lowed an­other sum­mer re­cruit, Gianni Alioski, to feed the ball into the Span­ish No 10 who skil­fully found space in the area be­fore ri­fling home a low shot into the bot­tom left cor­ner.

The 21st-minute opener came just one minute af­ter United’s cap­tain, Liam Cooper, had shown fine re­ac­tions to head a ris­ing shot from Lewis Grab­ban onto the cross­bar.

But chances for a Sunderland side man­aged by for­mer Whites chief Si­mon Grayson were few and far be­tween and United dou­bled their lead through sub­sti­tute Dal­las with 14 min­utes left. The lively Alioski again played a key role by feed­ing Saiz, whose rasp­ing cross was met by a tow­er­ing header from Dal­las to beat Ja­son Steele. The ab­sence of Wood had sud­denly been for­got­ten.

Ex­plain­ing his de­ci­sion not to fea­ture at the Sta­dium of Light, Wood said: “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.”

Dal­las said United would wish the striker all the best in the Pre­mier League, but that life moved on for Chris­tiansen’s Whites. He rea­soned: “We showed that we are just more than a one-man team. If the deal goes through with Woody then we wish him all the best but we have a squad here ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing great things.” Sunderland: Steele, Jones, Brown­ing, Kone, Gal­loway (Matthews 55); Honey­man, Cat­ter­mole (Asoro 74), Ndong, McGeady; Vaughan (Khazri 55), Grab­ban. Un­used sub­sti­tutes: Ruiter, O’Shea, Gib­son, Gooch. Leeds United: Wied­wald, Ayling, Jans­son, Cooper, Anita, O’Kane, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz (Klich 81), Her­nan­dez (Roofe 25), Ekuban (Dal­las 62). Un­used sub­sti­tutes: Green, Borth­wick-Jack­son, Shaugh­nessy, Vieira. Ref­eree: A Davies (Hamp­shire).

PIC­TURE: BRUCE ROLLINSON

MARCH­ING ON: Leeds United’s Sa­muel Saiz cel­e­brates his open­ing goal with Kalvin Phillips and Ezg­jan Alioski.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.