West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace is determined to hold out for a fee of £1.5 million before allowing Chris Wood the chance to enjoy a possible reunion with Gus Poyet at Brighton.
Peace has a reputation for driving a hard bargain at the Hawthorns and wants to maximise the revenue he receives for the New Zealand international in the January transfer window, with a host of Championship clubs prepared to battle for the 21-year-old’s services.
Brighton are poised to join Millwall and Leicester City in the contest for the striker, who has scored 10 goals in 17 starts since moving to Millwall on loan and whose contract with the Premier League side runs out at the end of the season.
Millwall have already made a £1m offer for the Albion Academy graduate, who spent six months on loan at the Amex Stadium in 2010-11. Wood’s two goals in the 2-2 draw with Brighton on Tuesday night have persuaded Poyet to make a move and his chairman Tony Bloom is believed to have sanctioned a deal.
Peace is determined to drive a hard bargain for a player they signed from junior football in his homeland and nurtured in their academy, but Poyet is hoping he can secure the services of a player who has matured markedly in the last two seasons.
“He's a man now. I told the players before the game not to expect the same player from when he was with us. He was a kid, a baby. He knows how to play the game, he's clinical and he's brave. He's a different player now. I'm pleased he's doing well. I hope he realises how we helped him earlier in his career,” said Poyet.
"We're trying to get someone - before today, that player was not Chris Wood. That doesn't mean he's not coming in. Until today, we weren't even talking to anyone about Chris. We knew how well he has been doing, because we've been watching strikers and everyone else in the world.
"We need to check plenty of things before we move for him. I would like to sign a player in his kind of form and with the same attitude. He knows how to deal with balls in the air and to use his physique. He has non-stop energy. He's still only 21 and I think he's going to be a top, top player."