Here are some names that all belong together: Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho, Tanguy Ndombele, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Jack Grealish, Harry Maguire, Riyad Mahrez, Romelu Lukaku (again), Andriy Shevchenko ... and Chris Wood?
That's a list of the most expensive Premier League signings by age. Pulisic is England's most expensive 20-year-old, Lukaku is the most expensive 24- and 28-year-old, and after moving from Burnley to Newcastle on Thursday for £25 million, Wood became the most expensive 30-year-old in the history of the richest league in the world.
Are you laughing yet? No? Well, you can start now.
The takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, immediately turned the club into the richest sports franchise on the planet. The news had Geordies in keffiyehs partying outside of St. James's Park, bragging about how much money their club suddenly had. Dreaming of a hyper-speed transformation into a potentially bigger and better version of Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain, with future Ballon d'Or winners dancing up and down the field ... now they've got Wood.
The gigantic Kiwi scored 46 goals in his four previous full Premier League seasons, and he scored at least 10 goals in each one. Wood was consistent, Wood was good -- in an elegant, battering-ram type of way. But Wood is 30, right around the age when most goal-scorers suddenly stop scoring goals, which is exactly what has happened. Through 17 matches this season, he has scored three times. He's taking both fewer shots and worse shots than ever before. He's 29th in the league in total expected goals, per the site FBref, and he's 39th in xG per 90 minutes. He has been one of the worst starting strikers in the league.
While I can't scientifically prove it, it feels safe to say that no other soccer club in the world would've paid £25 million for the opportunity to sign Wood to a contract. But here's the thing: Wood could get injured in training tomorrow, never play a single minute for Newcastle United, and he still might be worth it.