When Sunderland signed Connor Wickham in June 2011, he was seen as the next big thing to come out of the English Football League.
The striker was moving from Ipswich at the age of just 18 for a price of £8.1m. In total, the deal had the potential to rise to around the £12m mark.
If it did reach that fee, then Wickham would have left the Stadium of Light just four years later having set the club back almost £1m per goal.
The forward was nothing short of a flop in the north-east, ultimately scoring just 15 times in 91 outings. The promise he’d shown with the Tractor Boys wasn’t and still hasn’t been fulfilled.
When he first penned terms, Steve Bruce admitted that he was delighted that the teenager had chosen the Black Cats. That was understandable too.
Wickham had been chased by Arsenal at a similar time but he chose the north of England instead of a switch to the capital.
It was the Gunners who had the last laugh, however. Evidently, Wickham has not lived up to expectation and it’s likely he’d have failed even more if he’d moved to the Gunners.
Speaking about the attacker back in 2011, Bruce’s first words were: “He’s still very young but at 6ft 3in he’s a physical presence. With his height and style of play he’ll offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.”
Unfortunately, very rarely was Wickham a threat in front of goal. It’s remarkable to think that Sunderland were able to make a profit on him.
The Mackems sold him to Crystal Palace in 2015 for a fee of £9m. Finally, the striker had got his move to London, but it hasn’t paid dividends.
Wickham has played just 50 times in nearly six years at the club, scoring only 11 goals in the process. He has been left wanting in front of goal but ultimately, it is his horrific injury record that’s got the better of him.
Since joining the Eagles, he’s had 11 separate fitness issues, keeping the striker out for a combined 143 games and 1,004 days.
The worst injury was a cruciate ligament rupture back in 2016/17, an injury that kept him out 62 matches and 470 days.
All of this has seen Wickham’s market value dramatically decrease. From being sold for £9m, he is now worth just £900k at Selhurst Park by Transfermarkt.
It’s a rapid fall of around 90% from what Palace rated him at nearly six years ago.
Wickham is still only 28 so could make a career for himself elsewhere. That being said, his best days look behind him. Horrific injury luck has unfortunately derailed his career.
From being a plucky goal threat as a teenager, he’s spent more time on the treatment table than scoring goals as his career has progressed.