Connor Wickham: 'Deal Or No Deal?'
'£10 million for Connor Wickham - Deal or No Deal?' That's what Vital Ipswich has been asking you this week as the Ipswich Town striker prepares to celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday.
It's been quite a year for Wickham. The hero of the European Championship-winning England U17 team last Spring, the teenage hotshot was struck down with injury on the eve of the 2010/11 Championship season. Despite that setback, he quickly graduated through U19 level to the England U21 side by the end of 2010 before getting back to his best for Town under new boss Paul Jewell. His first professional hat-trick was followed by winning the Championship Player of the Month prize in February, then the accolades kept coming last when he was named both Championship Apprentice of the Year and the Football League Young Player of the Year at the last week's Football League Awards.
Whilst Wickham's reputation grows, so does his desirability. Even though the academy graduate recently signed a contract extension keeping him at Ipswich until 2013, it may only be a matter of time before he is snapped up. Rumours suggest that the Blues will not let their starlet go for anything less than £10 million, but with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur all heavily linked with Wickham in the past year, someone could soon be tempted to take a gamble on one of the hottest young players in English football. What's more, with Ipswich needing funds to build a team capable of pushing for promotion next season, maybe this summer would be the ideal time to trade?
As such, Vital Ipswich asked you how you would feel if Town received a £10 million bid for Wickham this summer, and here's how you responded:
51% - Take the money
27% - Ask for more
22% - Reject all offers
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It looks like the vast majority of Ipswich fans would be willing to deal this summer rather than keep their 'fox in the box', with 78% of voters ready to listen to offers. £10 million would be good enough for most, with just over half of respondents more than happy to part with Wickham at that price - most likely either because they feel it could help Jewell pick up several reinforcements for his Blues squad, or perhaps simply because they think Town would be laughing all the way to the bank. A further 27% however would be tempted to play the negotiating game a little longer in hope of a better offer. Meanwhile, only 22% voted in favour of rejecting all offers in order to keep the teenager, perhaps in the hope that Ipswich can benefit from his talents as he continues to develop.
There has been little word from those in charge at Portman Road over whether they plan to cash in on Wickham this summer. Chief Executive Simon Clegg has revealed that he, Jewell and chairman Marcus Evans have already been holding discussions over the club's transfer strategy this summer, though whether their plans rely upon funds from player sales is difficult to say. As is always the case with a game of 'Deal or No Deal' however, timing could be crucial - reject a £10 million deal and they may never get a better offer, but sell Wickham now, and who knows if a prospective Premier League banker will be having the last laugh...?
This week's poll: 'Which area of the Ipswich Town team does Paul Jewell most urgently need to improve in the summer?' (See right-hand column to place your vote)
What's your opinion on the future of Connor Wickham? Is he worth £10 million - and maybe more - or is he merely the subject of an awful lot of hype? Do you think Town would be better off retaining his services for as long as possible, or is it best to sacrifice one potential star to afford a new team? Share your views using the comment box below.
You can also have your say on this topic on our club forums - just click the banner below to register an account with Vital Ipswich: