SAINTS have sealed their fourth permanent signing of the summer transfer window with the addition of young defender Nathan Wood.

The 22 year old costs the club a fee of just £3million and reunites with former Swansea City boss Russell Martin after a lengthy pursuit.

He has joined days after previous defensive additions Ronnie Edwards and Charlie Taylor, while Taylor Harwood-Bellis has also made his loan move permanent.

Haven't heard of Wood before or want to learn more about the new signing? Here is everything you need to know about Nathan Wood...

Who is Nathan Wood?

Nathan Wood is a six-foot two-inches tall, 22 year old English centre-back, born in Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees on May 31, 2002.

He is the son of former Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Coventry City full-back Dean Gordon.

Wood played for local sides TIBS and Stockton Town before signing terms with Championship Middlesbrough at 16 having been scouted while playing for his district.

Before signing for Boro, he appeared in the CBBC educational documentary series Our School in 2014.

Wood didn't play for an academy side until he was 13, which allowed him to try his hand at other sports such as high jump and rugby.

His involvement with Boro's first team came soon after he signed terms at the Riverside, with the youngster heading to Germany for a six-day training camp in July 2018.

In August 2018, Wood came off the bench in their EFL Cup tie against Notts County, aged 16 years and 72 days, becoming the club's youngest-ever player.

After loan spells at Crewe Alexandre and Hibernian, Manchester United fan Wood left Middlesbrough to join Martin at Swansea City.

The deal saw Martin secure a long-term target having initially attempted to seal a move for the defender while in charge of MK Dons in League One.

Wood made 72 appearances for the South Wales club, helping them achieve a historic double over rivals Cardiff City.

Wood has represented England at every age group from under-15s through to under-21s.

His most recent under-21 caps saw him play alongside Southampton defender Harwood-Bellis in a 5-1 thrashing of Azerbaijan. 

Nathan Wood's minutes were reduced in his second season at Swansea CityNathan Wood's minutes were reduced in his second season at Swansea City (Image: PA)

What sort of player can we expect from Wood?

Given his ball-playing ability, it's no surprise that Martin has returned for Wood once again this summer.

During their season together at Swansea, the then 20 year old defender demonstrated his capability to carry the ball forward under pressure from the opposition.

In the 2022/23 season, Wood ranked 21st for passes attempted per 90 minutes (71.1). His pass completion rate (91.5 per cent) was the highest of any player in the division.

He also ranked among the highest players for total passing distance (1051.3 yards) and progressive passing distance (349.6 yards).

However, fellow Swansea defenders Ben Cabango and Harry Darling ranked higher than him.

The past year has seen a slight reduction in Wood's number of passes attempted per 90 (67.79), but his completion rate remains at 91 per cent.

In addition to passing through the press, Wood is capable of driving past forwards who are attempting to close him down.

Nathan Wood's passing numbers across the past 365 days when compared with other centre-backs outside the top five divisionsNathan Wood's passing numbers across the past 365 days when compared with other centre-backs outside the top five divisions (Image: Fbref)

He ranked in the top 70 per cent of defenders outside the top five divisions for progressive carries (0.77 per 90) and successful take-ons (0.26 per 90).

One aspect where Wood could improve, especially given his height (six-foot two-inches), is in the air.

In the last year, he has averaged 2.14 aerial duals per 90 minutes, ranking him in the 48th percentile.

However, his figures are higher than new Southampton teammates Harwood-Bellis and Jan Bednarek.

What has Wood said and what has been said about him?

Speaking on episode 12 of CBBC's Our School, Wood detailed his ambition of becoming a professional footballer.

He said: "My friends would describe me as a bit competitive, I always like to win. Ever since I was young, I have always wanted to be a footballer because I love playing football.

"My dad was a footballer and he is competitive. But it's not just that, when my mum was my age, she was good at running and quite competitive."

On becoming Middlesborough's youngest player, he said: "That summer I remember Daniel Ayala was injured so I went to Germany in pre-season and did quite well but nothing special.

"But yeah, I then got my chance in the cup which was amazing. I remember it being weird because I didn’t feel any pressure and had nothing to lose.

"I was playing for my hometown club and it was something that was really nice and one of my proudest moments.

"It was quite mental. I remember I’d been training with the first team, then I left school, did my GCSE’s, had my school prom and then made my debut quite quickly after."

On joining Southampton, Wood said: "Every player wants to play in the best league in the world, against the best players, and I think that speaks for itself.

"It's a challenge no matter who you are playing against and that is the motivation you need, that's why I play football.

"The rewards are massive when you put the work in. I want to hit the ground running and give it my best shot. 

"Staying in the league is a massive thing and for me personally, I just want to improve as always and enjoy it - those are the main focuses."

Nathan Wood has signed a four-year deal at SouthamptonNathan Wood has signed a four-year deal at Southampton (Image: Southampton FC)

On re-signing Wood for the second time in his career, Martin said:  “Nathan is a player I know and trust from our time together at Swansea, and someone I also tried to sign in my first job at MK Dons.

"He’s a top defender with tremendous physical qualities, great pace and calmness on the ball. What’s equally important to us is that he’s a great character.

"He will settle in seamlessly with the brilliant group we already have here. He’s hungry to prove himself in the Premier League, and we want to help him achieve that.”

Why have Saints signed Wood? 

Wood becomes the latest defensive addition as Martin looks to add numbers ahead of Southampton's Premier League return.

Centre-back was a real weak spot in Southampton's depth last season. Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek and Jack Stephens were the only out-and-out options in that position following the termination of Mason Holgate's loan.

With Martin switching to a back three system late last season, further players are required in case of injury or suspension.

A move for Wood makes sense given his pre-existing relationship with Martin, Harwood-Bellis and Ryan Manning.

At £3million, the deal is a bargain, especially considering their £10million bid last summer proved unsuccessful.

It remains to be seen where Wood factors into Southampton's depth chart. At present, one would assume he could serve as a backup option in his first season on the south coast.

However, with Bednarek entering the final 12 months of his contract and drawing reported interest from Europe, his involvement could increase should the Polish international depart.

Age is also on the England youth international's side. He will only be 26 at the expiration of his current four-year Saints contract, meaning he will have plenty of opportunities to establish himself in red and white.

Southampton's latest signing Nathan WoodSouthampton's latest signing Nathan Wood (Image: Southampton FC / Matt Watson)