Sunderland’s Connor Wickham has caused quite a stir in red-top gossip columns since refusing to sign a new contract at the Stadium of Light, prompting West Ham to line up a £5m bid for the former Reading youth’s services.
The good people at bwin.com have set Wickham’s Premier League goal-line at 7.5 for the season, with 17/20 odds available on the 21-year-old notching over/under that mark.
While this may seem off at first glance, as he has managed just six top-flight strikes in total since former Black Cats chief Steve Bruce parted with £8m to take him from Ipswich three years ago, the centre-forward’s league stats from last term tell a different story.
Although these numbers don’t include a goalless five-game spell on loan at Championship strugglers Leeds last March, the fact that 2013/14 was Wickham’s best net-bulging season so far gives a strong indication as to why Irons chief Sam Allardyce thinks he has spotted a bargain.
Nine goals in 41 all-competition games for the Tractor Boys in 2010/11 was enough for Bruce to splash almost double the figure West Ham are offering, so reports that Gus Poyet and co are holding out for a full reimbursement on that transfer should surprise nobody.
The Hereford native’s 68.5 per cent Premier League pass completion stats from last season doesn’t look up to much, yet only on-loan Fabio Borini of Sunderland’s centre-forwards managed better, and Wickham did contribute one assist in the top-flight.
England’s Under-21s have benefited to the tune of five successful lay-ons during the 6ft 3in hitman’s time in the Three Lions’ junior ranks, so Allardyce may see Wickham as more of an attacking all-rounder than he currently appears.