All Whites striker Chris Wood is a wanted man
Up to six second-tier English professional clubs are locked in a bidding war for All Whites striker Chris Wood.
The 22-year-old - who is still on the books of newly promoted English Premier League club Leicester City - has already rejected a bid to join Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers on a £1.25 million (NZ$2.5m) transfer after reportedly failing to agree on personal terms.
England's Sky Sports news outlet yesterday reported that other Championship (tier two) clubs are interested in the Kiwi forward, including recently relegated EPL outfits Fulham and Norwich City, and Derby County, who just missed promotion last season.
Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday are also reported to be interested.
News reports stated that Wolves, Fulham, Norwich, Derby and Wigan were all interested in signing Wood on a permanent basis, while Sheffield Wednesday preferred a loan arrangement.
Wood is regarded as a proven performer at Championship level. The Waikato man has scored 45 goals in 101 appearances since breaking into the English professional scene with West Bromwich Albion, with whom he had brief EPL experience.
Most of his goals have come in the Championship, or League One (third tier) during loan spells with Brighton and Hove Albion, Birmingham City, Barnsley and Millwall before a £1.5m (NZ$3m) move to Leicester last season.
Personal terms could the key to wooing Wood. When he signed for Leicester last year, miffed Millwall officials claimed their salary offers had been trumped by the cashed-up Midlands club, who were paying Wood a reported £20,000 a week (NZ$40,000) - an annual salary of about NZ$2m.
Wolves - promoted to the Championship after winning last year's League One title - admitted yesterday they were out of the race to sign Wood.
"It looks like that deal is passed now and we are moving on," manager Kenny Jackett said in the Leicester Mercury newspaper.
"We didn't get a deal agreed with the club or the player.
"We did make an offer but we haven't settled anything and it looks like we have to move on.
"It is what it is and we have to accept it.
"It is something which has come out publicly which we understand and it's a situation which I was asked about - we did make a bid and were close.
"That one hasn't come off and it looks like we are moving on."
Jackett was clearly keen to get his man after coaching Wood at London club Millwall while the Kiwi was on loan from West Brom.
But Wood opted instead to sign for Leicester, who he helped to win the Championship title last season. Wood, who scored 13 goals in 46 appearances, has fallen down the pecking order at Leicester following the arrival of record £8m (NZ$16m) Argentine signing Leonardo Ulloa.
Intrigue now centres on his next port of call.
Fulham and Norwich still have parachute payments awarded to ex-EPL clubs but Fulham have already paid £11m (NZ$22m) for Leeds United striker Ross McCormack.
Derby, another Midlands club, could be an ideal destination if Wood is still looking to develop his game.
County are coached by former England manager Steve McClaren and boast one of English football's brightest talents, 19-year-old midfielder Will Hughes, and Republic of Ireland international striker Conor Sammon.