Tottenham missed out on Andy Carroll this January, and the effects of not having an extra striker are yet to be seen. But Spurs have been linked today with a £15m deal for Connor Wickham, 17, of Ipswich Town. He is physical, young and English, much like the former Newcastle striker. He might seem to be a perfect plan B to the recruitment of Andy Carroll, but is he the real deal?
There is no way that Wickham will be as good next season as Carroll has been this. I saw Wickham play a lot at the start of the year, at home and away at Sheffield United, Millwall and Portsmouth. There was a lot of hype at Portman Road over him, mainly due to his performances at the back end of last year and in International youth games. He also scored a great goal which Kevin Beattie described as the best he had ever seen at Portman Road. This definitely put him on the map…
However, in the early part of this season Ipswich were not playing well, and nor was Wickham. He was more noticeable for his white boots than his performances in the games I watched. He was always good in the warm-up – he impressed me with his first touch, and finishing, but he did not demonstrate this talent during the match itself.
This was partly down to Roy Keane trying to ‘protect’ him (using him as a sub), and partly down to the way Town were playing. But the good thing about this dip in form is that it reminded people that he is still just a kid and not to get carried away with how good he is at the moment, he is certainly not ready to be exposed to the Premier League.
Let’s face it, £15m is an awful lot of money for a 17 year old. Connor Wickham may be bigger than most full-grown men, but he has only just begun his career in football. Andy Carroll, on the other hand, proved he was good enough for a top side. He was overpriced at £35m, but he will no doubt eventually prove his worth, he could have ten good seasons at Liverpool.
However, under Paul Jewell Wickham has played every game, and he is really starting to come good. Last week he scored his first hat-trick, against Doncaster. He played a good game at the Emirates recently too. I think he has all the potential and attributes needed to be a top striker, he is skilful with his feet, powerful and good in the air.
As we have seen, his form has increased with his pitch-time, the last thing he needs is to be signed by a Premier League club and to be put on the bench. If Tottenham do sign him in the summer, I would like them send him back to Ipswich on loan for another season where he can continue to progress and work at his game on the pitch.
With this in mind, he may well be the next big thing after Andy Carroll but he is not the next best thing. He will not offer the immediate impact that Carroll would have done. Spurs still need a top-class striker and while Connor Wickham might prove to be one in the long run, he is not ready to play every week in the Premiership just yet.
If Tottenham are going to spend money, I would rather see them spend £30m on one serious striker than £15m on the next big thing. Wickham needs time to develop. Tottenham need an striker now. For what he will cost, I don’t think Spurs can afford to spend their money on a development project.
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