Wickham, 17 made his debut for the Tractor Boys aged just 16 years and 11 days against Doncaster Rovers last season, and in doing so became the youngest player to play for Ipswich Town. This season Wickham has had a number of impressive performances, mostly coming off the bench. Despite only making just 10 starts, he finished this season as the club’s 2nd highest scorer with six goals to his name. Standing at 6ft 3in, Wickham already looks like an assured player, he has the confidence of a 30-year-old professional and his movement is first rate, he looks to be a very exciting prospect.
This potential hasn’t gone unnoticed either and Spurs are rumoured to be offering Ipswich £5m for the player plus loaning him back to the club for next season. Whilst that sounds like a good deal for Ipswich, one has to ask is that the best move for the player? At 17, young Wickham still has a lot of his game to develop and there is no way he will be playing regular first team football for Spurs in the next two years. Tottenham also have a record of signing young promising players only for their careers to sink into obscurity.
There are at least three good reasons why Wickham would be better staying put. Remember John Bostock? The promising youngster was signed by Spurs back in 2008 from Crystal Palace and has only played 13 competitive games since his move to the club, of which 10 of those came playing on loan for Brentford this season. Welsh full-back Chris Gunter also joined Tottenham in 2008 and is now playing for Nottingham Forest in the Championship, still only 20-years-old, he only played 16 times for Spurs before being deemed ‘surplus to requirements’. Wayne Routledge is another player who signed from Palace as a promising youngster and after making only five appearances was sold to Aston Villa and is now playing for Newcastle. Finally Adel Taarabt and Kevin-Prince Boateng were youngsters signed from abroad and even they couldn’t break into the team with Boateng departing to Portsmouth and Taarabt, on loan at QPR doesn’t seem to have a future at White Hart Lane.
Wickham needs to stay at Ipswich for a few more years to make sure he doesn’t join the likes of those players. Although some may argue that Lennon, Huddlestone and Bale have made the most out of a move to North London, they are far outranked by young players whose careers haven’t benefited from a move there. The Championship is a great league for young players to cut their teeth in and get regular first team football, and Wickham will only improve further as a player by staying at Ipswich. Despite a move to the Premiership being very tempting, Wickham just needs to ask himself one question, – ‘Do you want to be the next John Bostock?’