Gus Poyet says ‘more people than you imagine are talking about Connor’ when referring to Sunderland frontman Wickham.
He goes on to claim that ‘people from all over the world are saying mamma mia, that number 10’.
If the Uruguayan is correct and the England U21 international is drawing admiring glances from across the globe, then why have the Black Cats not tied him to a new contract?
Wickham’s current deal at the Stadium of Light is due to expire next summer, meaning he will drop into the free agent pool at the end of the season if fresh terms are not agreed.
It has to be noted that he has struggled at times on Wearside, with an £8million transfer fee weighing heavy on his shoulders.
He was, however, able to inspire a dramatic late surge by Sunderland in 2013/14 which helped to steer them clear of relegation danger and preserve their Premier League status.
Those exploits alone should have seen him offered an extension, but Poyet claims that he is staying out of discussions as sporting director Lee Congerton takes the lead.
He said in the Sunderland Echo after revealing that he has been speaking with Wickham about his role in the side: “Yes, of course we talked about the contract, my opinion, his opinion and the situation. But that has been dealt with by Lee. I try not to get involved in the financial side.
“First, I don’t like it and secondly, if you know everything and there’s a problem, it influences you, without a doubt. I don’t want that. If he’s under contract, fit, playing well, then the rest doesn’t matter. I would like him to do the same and let his people deal with it.”
Poyet is paid to focus on results and matters out on the field, but it may be time for him to become more involved in events away from the pitch.
If he wants Wickham to be part of his long-term plans then he needs to make his board aware, in no uncertain terms, that talks need to be stepped up.
If he fails to act now, then he may miss the boat.
Those clubs he claims are watching on from afar will be freed to negotiate pre-contract terms in the New Year, and they will waste little time in making an approach if Sunderland continue to leave the exit door ajar.