Leeds-linked USA striker Bobby Wood makes Union Berlin move

Elland Road

The 22-year-old American had been a reported target for Leeds boss Uwe Rosler before inking a three-year deal with the German second division club.

Any lingering hope Leeds United had of signing reported summer target Bobby Wood was dashed on Monday afternoon, when 2. Bundesliga side Union Berlin announced the capture of the 22-year-old American striker to a deal until 2018.

Wood joins Union from fellow German second division club 1860 Munich, who he first linked up with as a trainee in 2007 after moving across the Atlantic from California, before going on to earn his first-team debut in 2011.

While a well-regarded prospect, the Hawaii-native would struggle for form and fitness over the following four seasons, netting just three times in 54 total appearances, and had a high-profile fallout with former manager Markus von Ahlen in October that saw him banished to the reserves.

A winter loan move to second tier rivals Erzgebirge Aue provided him with a chance to show his promise but he was restricted to nine outings due to a ligament tear and torn meniscus, as his three goals were not enough to prevent the club from relegation.

Nevertheless, despite his struggles at the club level, Wood has become a recent favourite of US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, having earned eight caps since his debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 2013.

His regular inclusions in Klinsmann’s squads have often garnered criticism among fans in the past due to his poor finishing but he silenced a sizeable number of his doubters last month by netting late winners in back-back friendly victories over the Netherlands and Germany, respectively.

Those two goal-scoring cameos saw his future becoming the subject of growing speculation in recent weeks, with agent Robert Schneider confirming interest in his client from across Europe.

“Of course, there are some possibilities in Germany," Schneider told MLSsoccer.com earlier this month. "But he also has some interest from outside Germany.”

Pressed on Wood’s desire to leave 1860 this summer, despite Torsten Frohlinghe replacing Von Ahlen as manager, Schneider added: “That is no secret. We will see what happens in the coming weeks."

With an exit thus looking inevitable, Leeds has been named as one of Wood’s potential suitors, having been on the radar of the club’s new German head coach Uwe Rosler for some time [h/t Liga-zwei].

However, the emerging forward will instead be sticking around German football next term, with Union securing his signature for a rumoured seven-figure sum.

"I had very good discussions with the directors and quickly realized that the Union can be the right place for me," Wood told the club’s official website upon the announcement of his move. "It is a special club with great goals, and I want to show what I have here. Now I will to quickly get to know everyone and try to find my place in the team."

A versatile forward, who can also operate on the wing, Wood’s speed would have been a welcome addition to Rosler’s squad but, given his stark lack of production and past fitness problems, his potential signing would have also been a gamble.

There is little doubt that he possesses a great deal of potential, as shown in the USA’s recent friendlies, but it remains to be seen whether he can put it all together moving forward.

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