News that former England Under-21 international Connor Wickham is on the brink of leaving Sunderland won’t surprise anyone, but the reported destination and fee for the 22-year-old striker will shock plenty of football watchers.
Since signing from Ipswich for £8m four years ago, Wickham has managed just 15 goals in 91 Black Cats appearances, with his best scoring spell during that period coming in 11 matches on loan at Championship Sheffield Wednesday during the first half of the 2013/14 campaign, when he notched eight times in 11 games.
With that in mind, a loan move back to the second tier might be seen as a logical step, but Crystal Palace must see something very few others have if news that they’ve lodged an £8m bid for the striker’s services is true.
Sky Sports says it is, and they’re usually not far off the mark, with reports claiming Wickham is en route to Selhurst Park ahead of a permanent transfer, while Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat and owner Ellis Short heartily chortle all the way to the bank.
Palace chief Alan Pardew will be hoping the 22-year-old can replicate his form under former Stadium of Light gaffer Gus Poyet at the end of the season before last, when Wickham did as much as any player in keeping the club in the top flight, with five goals in six games between March and April.
His overall scoring record suggests that run was an aberration, as opposed to the shape of things to come, but Pardew is thought to be planning on pairing Wickham up front with borrowed forward Patrick Bamford, who struck 19 times in all competitions on loan from Chelsea at Middlesbrough last term.
Glenn Murray is thought to be the man preparing to make way for the Eagles’ new strikeforce, with the 31-year-old linked with a switch to newly-promoted Bournemouth of late.
The boys and girls at bwin.com price up Murray at 1/2 to still be a Palace player by September 4th though, while 7/5 says he heads for the Cherries.