Just a few years ago, spending £9 million on a single player represented a huge investment for Crystal Palace, and Connor Wickham became one of the club’s most expensive signings when he arrived for that fee back in 2015.
The stocky striker had endured a tough time at previous club Sunderland, scoring just 15 goals in 91 appearances during a four-year stay at the Stadium of Light.
A move back down south represented a fresh start for the now 28-year-old, and he welcomed the transfer with open arms.
“I needed a fresh start. I had four years up north, and it’s been a bit stop-start. Now I’ve come back home, and I can settle down and see my family a bit more and hopefully let my football do the talking,” Wickham revealed.
However, things didn’t go as planned for the former England Under-21 international despite a solid start to life at Selhurst Park.
In his maiden campaign for Palace, Wickham bagged six goals and provided three assists in 24 outings for the capital club, indicating the promise and potential that the youngster possessed.
But a cruciate ligament injury limited him to just four Premier League starts in 2016/17 and forced him to watch the entirety of the next campaign from the sidelines as he battled to return to full fitness.
On his return to first-team action in 2018, Wickham’s injury woes continued to plague his time in south London, with a string of issues limiting him to just 159 minutes of action in all competitions.
A short-term loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday failed to revive his career in the second half of 2019/20 before another injury-hit season saw the unlucky hitman fail to make a first-team appearance last term.
Wickham’s struggles as Palace led to the club’s hierarchy releasing him on a free transfer over the summer, finally putting an end to his misery at Selhurst Park and capping off a true transfer nightmare for chairman Steve Parish.
It was considered a risky transfer at the time and ultimately, the risk didn’t pay off for Palace. Hopefully, lessons have been learned after Wickham’s nightmare spell at Selhurst Park.