Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCan Wickham be a success at Sunderland? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Can Wickham be a success at Sunderland? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Can Wickham be a success at Sunderland?

Connor Wickham has moved closer to a move to Sunderland today after the Black Cats agreed a fee of £9m with Ipswich Town for the striker.

This deal could eventually be worth up to £12.5m with add-ons at a later date. A very significant fee for someone who has never played in the Premier League, I’m sure you’ll agree.

This is the feeling that has dominated the reaction to the deal. Many believe that Sunderland are paying a massive amount of money for someone who is unproven at the highest level.

Others looking at free bets for the upcoming season even argue that Wickham didn’t have the best season for Ipswich last year, making the deal even more bizarre. When Ashley Young – a proven Premier League and England footballer – goes for £15m, Wickham’s price tag of towards £13m certainly seems steep.

There is only so much criticism you can put Sunderland’s way though. They are signing a talented young English player and this is good for football in this country.

We would surely rather they gave £12.5m to a fellow English club than a team from elsewhere in Europe. It keeps the money in the English game and helps a team like Ipswich have some financial security.

Wickham might prove to be a bargain too – you never know. Many see it as a negative that he hasn’t played at the top level before, but you could also look at this in another way.

He might take to it like a duck to water – we don’t know. He certainly seems like a strong lad who is capable of holding his own physically, so if this combines well with the talent he has – he could prove a fair few people wrong.

Steve Bruce will have seen something in Wickham’s game that excited him. He sees an 18-year-old who could be part of the club’s future. Yes, it is a gamble, but maybe it is one worth taking.

Looking at balancing the books, Sunderland did receive £24m for Darren Bent last season, so to sign an English striker that is nine years younger for around half of the price could work out well.

Of course Wickham won’t be expected to score the goals Bent does straight away, but if he can settle into life at Sunderland and have a productive first season, Bruce will be happy with this piece of business.

There is always the fear that a young player will feel under pressure from the large transfer fee, but let’s be honest, this is not the only eyebrow raising deal involving an English player of late.

Jordan Henderson moved from Sunderland to Liverpool for £20m – which is another example of how the Black Cats do have plenty of money to spend – while Andy Carroll moved to Anfield for an incredible £35m last season.

Anyone looking at placing a free bet on the Premier League will note how these two players may well attract more attention than Wickham. Firstly their transfer fee was bigger and secondly they are at a more high profile club.

Wickham should ignore anyone who says he isn’t worth his transfer fee and set about putting them wrong, quietly going about his business as he applies his talent and fearless approach to the game on the Premier League.

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