Reliable journalist: It will be hugely problematic for Leeds to keep this player if they don't go up
By Harry Sykes
Leeds face an uphill task to hang on to Chris Wood if they fail to win promotion to the Premier League, according to a reliable journalist.
Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay explained the difficulty for Leeds in keeping the Championship’s leading scorer if they remain in the second tier next season.
Leeds cemented their place in the play-off positions with Saturday’s 3-0 win against Preston at Elland Road but their hopes of automatic promotion disappeared following consecutive defeats at Reading and Brentford.
Hay explained how Wood, 25, has become the club’s most valuable asset on the back of his prolific form in front of goal and his future could hinge on the outcome of the play-off matches at the end of May.
“Time moves quickly and suddenly it seems that retaining Wood will be hugely problematic if promotion gets away from Leeds,” Hay wrote in his weekly Yorkshire Evening Post column.
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“Every other striker in the division is eating his dust. What genuinely marks Wood out at Elland Road is the huge swing in his reputation and the colossal shift in appreciation of his talent.
“There is no possibility that Leeds would have made the play-offs without him and, in the context of Wood’s longer-term ambition, this season should be the making of him. Prolific, reliable, irrepressible and very much Leeds United’s player of the year.”
Bet Victor price Everton at 4/1 to land Wood before the 3 September transfer window cut-off, after Football Insider revealed last month they are keeping close tabs on the Championship’s leading scorer.
The bookies make Everton half the price to capture the New Zealand international of Premier League rivals West Ham and Stoke, who are both 8/1.
Wood, 25, is rated in the £15million bracket by Leeds on the back of a season in which he has spearheaded their promotion push with 24 league goals from 39 matches, supplemented by three cup strikes to lift his total tally to 27 from 43 appearances.
The forward joined Leeds from Leicester in the summer of 2015 for £3million and has a contract that runs until 2019.
But the promotion hopefuls could be forced to fend off interest in Wood regardless of whether they secure promotion back to the Premier League after 13 years in the lower leagues.
Wood was named in the Football League team of the season, encompassing players from all three divisions, on Sunday night but missed out on the coveted Championship player of the year award.
That went to Brighton attacking midfielder Anthony Knockeart, who beat Wood and Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle to the gong.
Leeds are fifth in the Championship after the weekend fixtures, accumulating a total of 72 points from 41 matches.
In other Leeds transfer news, the club have sealed an out-of-window midfielder transfer.