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The SBI View: Germany stay would make most sense for in-demand Wood

Bobby Wood FC Union Berlin 23

Given Bobby Wood’s recent performances, it is no surprise that several big-name clubs are reportedly after his services. However, a likely step up will need to be a calculated leap for a player looking to assert himself as a regular for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Reports emerged on Tuesday linking Wood to Bundesliga clubs Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen. In addition, Wood has reportedly caught the eye of  Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who was seemingly impressed with Wood’s two-goal performance in a 4-0 Union Berlin victory over Frankfurt on March 5.

Keeping his recent performances in mind, it’s no surprise a club with the stature of Liverpool has taken a look at Wood. The Union Berlin forward has netted 14 goals this season, including nine goals in the past eight games. Combined with international goals against Mexico, Germany and the Netherlands scattered throughout 2015, Wood’s club form has more than warranted a step up in level.

For Wood, that step should come into the German Bundesliga, in a country he knows well, and a league that will allow him to continue his growth in the best way possible.

The Hamburg option is likely the most logical, as the German club seems a perfect fit for a striker of Wood’s capabilities. As things stand, Hamburg is sorely lacking a go-to forward. Winger Nicolai Muller leads the team in scoring with seven goals, while striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga has netted just six times in 24 starts. In Wood, Hamburg would have a talented young striker to build around, a player who would need little time to acclimate to the rigors of German soccer.

Hamburg currently sits 12th in the Bundesliga, but just four points out of the relegation zone. The club is in for a fight, and it’s doubtful Wood would up and leave Union Berlin in favor of another 2. Bundesliga team should Hamburg drop down a division.

Bayer Leverkusen presents a bit more of a risk, but also a massive reward. The club currently sits sixth in the league, well within striking distance of a European spot.

Competition for a spot in the lineup would be fierce, though. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez would prove a fun and ironic partner for Wood given the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico. The Mexican international has scored 14 of the team’s 39 goals this season and has been a revelation since moving to the Bundesliga.

In addition, the club boasts forward options line Stefan Kießling and Admir Mehmedi, the latter of which is just one year older than Wood.

While cracking into Leverkusen’s lineup would be a challenge, the idea of earning playing time at Liverpool looks even more difficult. Christian Benteke is likely on his way out this summer, while Daniel Sturridge is a perennial injury risk. Still, Liverpool has a series of forward options that would likely keep Wood on the bench.

Bundesliga import Roberto Firmino has been spectacular for the Reds this season, while young Belgian Divock Origi appears to have earned the tag of forward for the future. Add in the currently injured Danny Ings, and Wood would likely have four or five players to surpass to earn time at striker.

With seven games left in the 2. Bundesliga season along with upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Wood has plenty of time to continue to boost his resume ahead of a potential summer move. The 23-year-old forward will be a man with options this summer, and it will be up to him to pick the one that is him the best chance at furthering his development as one of the USMNT’s premier young forwards. As appealing as some of those options may be, Wood should consider staying in the same country where he helped his career take off.

Comments

  1. How bad is 2. Bundesliga? We’ve seen guys struggle to adjust from the likes of Eredivisie, the Championship, and MLS. Am I wrong in thinking 2. Bundesliga is worse than all of those 3 (and significantly so as to Eredivisie)? I guess I’m just surprised at the list of clubs expressing an interest in Wood; I could see lower table 1st division teams like Hamburg, but borderline-CL teams like Liverpool and Leverkusen?

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    • Why? He’s among the leading scores in the 2.Bundesliga. He’s exactly the kind of player they’d take a chance on. Doesn’t mean he’ll work out but I’m not surprised bigger clubs are interested. And these are pretty big clubs but it’s not like we are talking about Barca, Bayern or Real being interested.

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    • Avi, it is really more a function of style of play and players ceiling/ability. Eredivisie is a very offensive league with open play and attacking. Championship is less technical, per se, but not very open in terms time on the ball/ close down players a lot. I cannot speak to Bundesliga 2 because I have only seen clips of a few games. MLS is very fast paced (generally speaking) up and down, but there are teams that play differently. RBNY press all day long and give you very little time. Dallas and Columbus tend to move the ball around and not as up and down even though they have the athleticism to do so.

      So it gets very different to compare leagues, in a sense. You have to look at player’s traits to see how they may excel in a different league. Klopp (from his days at Dortmund) seems to like technical players that can play false 9 or use space and movement very well. Wood is the latter. What you to wonder is will he have the technical ability to deal with the pressing and physical play in the EPL.

      I don’t always agree with Slow, but I do in this case. Why not take a chance as long as their style of play matches his? Why be afraid of failure. Are you never going to ask out a girl because she is too pretty?

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  2. As many here have stated this is not a clear cut decision to make. Regardless of if he goes for the biggest paycheck or the club that offers him the greatest opportunity for playing time Wood will have a difficult choice to make. Hopefully at the end of the year he’ll have multiple offers presented to him….and that he and his advisers make an intelligent choice that serves him well for the present and the future.

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  3. The smart move is Liverpool. They are a great club with a history and fan base, second to none. On top of this he would be managed by someone remarkably similar to his national team manager, and that kind of synchronicity is hard come across.

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  4. Leverkuesen and Hamburg are just the early birds, as are Liverpool. He will have many suitors by the season’s end. It is still possible for him to secure the 2nd Bundesliga Golden Boot, then multiply x 3.

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  5. I think most of us would take a risk within our career if it meant a chance at greater success and higher financial rewards. It’s always amusing that we wish the opposite on players in the soccer realm. Specifically Americans.

    IF Wood receives an offer from Liverpool and decides to pursue it I’d applaud it. Not everyone wants “comfort” like Jordycakes. This mentality of fearing to fail is so completely un-American the irony of its frequency on this topic is disturbing. Luckily the Matt Miazga’s of the new generation don’t share this soft mentality…even if he does fail. I respect that a lot more than seeking “comfort”.

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    • I was going to post the same thing earlier but got lazy. To tell the truth, it’s the American fans that are scared of being let down by finding out their “heroes” are not as good as they hoped.
      This article goes against everything a professional athlete should be. If you want comfort and low risk then go to college and find a 9-5.

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      • So your saying that choosing to got to college whilst knowing that you’ll probably become indebted for several thousands of dollars is a low risk situation. Clearly those who cant afford to go to College didn’t get the memo.

      • Rob makes a good point. USMNT fans were praying Miazga wouldn’t be thrown into the lineup against PSG because they were sure he’d be a disaster. Maybe he will be but maybe he won’t. I would rather find out than have him sitting on the bench.

      • It’s almost as if didn’t read my post or don’t understand it. You’re responding to someone who’s suggesting he does what’s best for “him” and not what’s best for “us”.

    • That’s a great opinion but at the end of the day your opinion is worth jack to the player. If Bobby Wood or Jordan Morris decide that staying where they’re at is going to afford them more playing time, further developing their skill and giving them more NT call ups and in the long run makes them a better player that’s their opinion. And unlike your or my opinion, is ALL that matters…

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      • That’s a great opinion but at the end of the day your opinion is worth jack to the player.

        Do you at OB Rick have reading comprehension issues? My post isn’t meant to be some plea to Wood. It’s completely the opposite.

  6. It is simple really. Take the team that offers you the best monetary deal. Careers can end in an eye blink, coaches change, team philosophy changes, new players come on board and a myriad of other things can happen to derail the best laid plans. Go for the money.

    Besides the best way to ensure that Wood’s new team treats him right is for them to invest enough money in Wood that awkward questions will be raised if he fails.

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    • I feel like your argument is over-simplified.

      Just because one team offers you double the amount of another team, doesn’t mean they value you more. That team offering you half of the other offer may take that investment more seriously than the larger club. Relative value and investment is more important than money alone when it comes to how pressured a club is into developing a player.

      Also, there is a larger strategy to consider. If the player takes the larger offer and never plays, and therefore gets no national team call ups and very limited exposure, they aren’t likely to see another big contract, not to mention national team money and promotional opportunities.

      It’s a big, complex decision that isn’t wisely boiled down to one immediate factor.

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      • Beside, Wood knows he can always come to MLS to get paid more money than he is worth one day because we will always overpay for players with European experience, even in the lower European leagues. I’m looking at you, Mix.

    • I agree with this. Careers are short for footballers. That’s why I always thought it was ridiculous when people were mad at Bradley for coming to MLS when he was more than tripling his salary. For example, if Liverpool offers double what a Bundesliga club offers I think that should make the decision fairly easy.

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