Connor Wickham’s contract expires in June 2015, and the club should be looking to cash in on his talents.
Wickham was the key factor in the Black Cats miraculous survival in the Premier League last season, with his tally of five goals in three games at the close of the campaign doing enough to keep the club in the top flight.
He netted against Chelsea, Manchester City and Cardiff City, whilst also providing the assist for Sebastian Larsson’s winning goal against Manchester United, and, despite being just 21-years-old, he was being touted to become the starting striker for Gus Poyet’s side when the current season started.
However, his campaign has not gone as well as last year, and he appears to be following the path he walked in his early spells with the Black Cats - when he scored just one goal in 28 Premier League appearances. He has managed to register just one strike this campaign - in the 3-1 victory over Stoke - and he has lost his place in the first XI to a recently rejuvenated Steven Fletcher.
Wickham’s best trait is his physicality, and he utilised that last season, when Poyet resorted to a direct style of football in the search for survival, but, with the head coach working on playing a more possession-based game this season, the former Ipswich forward’s technical limitations have shone through - he is the most dispossessed player in the Premier League this season. His inability to create chances as a lone striker has paved the way for 27-year-old Fletcher to prove his worth to the Black Cats again - with his mobility and strength combining to make him a perfect ball-playing target man.
With Wickham’s contract expiring at the end of the current season, and interest from abroad in the player - with Italian club Lazio reportedly keen - it may be worth Poyet cashing in on his outcast forward whilst his reputation from last season still exists. He is reportedly refusing to sign a new deal at the Stadium of Light, and, with him able to leave for free next summer, the club could look to fund the arrival of an incoming striker by selling Wickham in January.
It is highly likely they will make a loss on the forward - who signed for £8 million after scoring 13 goals in 65 games for Ipswich - but it is better to have a small income, rather than losing him for nothing next year.
Despite playing his part in Sunderland’s survival last season, the youngster is undoubtedly replaceable, and the Black Cats should have no trouble in finding a striker who can score more than seven goals in 51 appearances at the Stadium of Light.