Connor Wickham finalised his move to Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon, putting pen to paper on a five-year contract with the club in a deal that is reported to be costing between £6-7 million up front, rising to a potential £9 million with add ons.
If you speak to most Sunderland fans about the deal, you’ll be given the impression that Palace have been mugged by the Black Cats, given Wickham’s lack of consistency throughout his stay in the North East. Undoubtedly a player with potential, his game has shown brief glimpses of class on a few occasions, but for the Sunderland faithful, the 22-year-old has shown himself to be work shy once too often.
Speaking about the move, Wickham himself seems happy to admit that things had stagnated for him over the last year or so.
“I think I needed the fresh start, I had four years up north and it’s been a bit stop-start.
“Now I’ve come back home and I can settle down and see my family a bit more and hopefully let my football do the talking.
I spoke to the gaffer last week and he said all the right things about the club and I’ve got friends here who also told me some very good things.
“I looked at the team before I arrived here and the signings that have been brought in, and the potential to score goals and the chances that could be created was a massive influence. Hopefully I can add to that talent and make the squad stronger.
Whilst it would be easy to blame Wickham individually for his struggles at Sunderland, there is often a lot to be said for a player being given the opportunity to wipe the slate clean by moving clubs after a period of poor form. Still only 22, the striker has all the time in the world to re-work his game in SE25, under the guidance of a manager who clearly believes in him, given the transfer fee Palace have willingly forked out to bring him in.
Very similar in style to Glenn Murray, Connor will hope to hit the ground running in red and blue, flanked by the creative trickery of Bolasie and Zaha and fed through balls from the likes of Cabaye and Puncheon centrally, the Ipswich academy graduate has all the necessary tools around him to carve out a successful niche at Selhurst Park.
Confidence will obviously play a pivotal part in his potential triumphs or failures whilst with the club, just as it would with any striker who had been widely earmarked for success so young. Should he be able to free himself from the memory of four wasted years on Wearside, we may just have a proper player on our hands.