Sunderland Seal Switch For Striker Connor Wickham
Ipswich Town have finally relinquished their hold on striker Connor Wickham after the 18-year-old signed a four year contract with Sunderland in a deal believed to be worth up to £12 million.
Sunderland's interest in Wickham first came to prominence three weeks ago before reports last week revealed that the Wearsiders had made the first firm bid for the 18-year-old, who netted 14 goals in 73 appearances over two years at Portman Road. News then emerged yesterday that the two clubs had agreed a fee now understood to be £8.1 million plus £4 million in top-ups - shattering Town's previous record sale figure of £6 million - with the player travelling to the Stadium of Light for a medical on Wednesday.
Wickham's move has now been officially confirmed by Sunderland, whose swift action has enabled them to beat the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham to the teenager's signature. Town Chief Executive Simon Clegg revealed that it had been a tough decision but wished Connor the best for his career.
Clegg told the Ipswich Official Website: 'As much as we would have liked to have kept Connor at Portman Road we have to be realistic and recognise that the offer from Sunderland was simply too good to turn down.'
'I know that every Town fan will join me in wishing Connor well for the future. We are proud that he has developed through our Academy and what he has achieved in his time here and we will follow his ongoing progress with interest. We will now look carefully as to how best to utilise these funds to support Paul [Jewell] in strengthening the squad.'
The story therefore brings to a close the long running soap opera surrounding young prospect Wickham, who had been the subject of constant speculation ever since he first burst onto the scene as Town's youngest ever player - aged 16 years and 11 days - in a home match against Doncaster Rovers in April 2009.
While the England U21 international will now be looking to begin the glittering career at the top level that he has long been tipped to enjoy, Ipswich boss Paul Jewell will now be considering how to invest the windfall on further improving his team. The Town manager has already made three signings so far, and with Wickham's departure making it 13 players who have left the club this summer, it looks likely that many more additions will follow before the new season begins.
Farewell, Connor, and best wishes for the future.
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