Wickham rumours refuse to fade away

THE bids keep rolling in, but Connor Wickham’s future remains at Ipswich Town.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is a big personal fan of Wickham, and he would dearly love the England Under-17 star to move to White Hart Lane this summer.

But while Redknapp is prepared to increase his bid to �8m, the important facts are that Wickham does not want to leave Portman Road, and Town are in no desperate need to sell their prize asset.

A figure of �8m, on the face of it, is a lot of money for a player who only turned 17 at the end of March, has never played in the Premier League and has only started nine league games for mid-table Championship side Ipswich.

But Wickham, dubbed in some quarters as a possible “new Wayne Rooney,” is a special talent and one that could eventually command double the fee that Tottenham are currently willing to pay for the physically strong centre forward.

Wickham was already hot property, and a target of all the leading clubs in the country, even before he played a starring role in England’s victory at the recent European Under-17 Championships in Lichtenstein.

The Town front-man scored three goals in the competition, following up his brace in the semi-final against France with the match-winner in the final against Spain, to confirm that he has a big future in front of him.

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Redknapp might not rest until he lands his target, but he will almost certainly have to increase his offer still further for a player who made his first team debut at the tender age of 16 years and 11 days, as a substitute against Doncaster in April, 2009.

Town are unlikely to consider any figure less than �10m. They were certainly quick to turn down Tottenham’s earlier bid of �5m for Wickham before the start of the European Under-17 Championships, even though that deal included the player returning to Portman Road on loan for next season.

Before the start of the 2004-05 campaign, a certain Rooney joined Manchester United in a �25.6m move from Everton, a world record for a teenager.

Of course by then Rooney had already enjoyed two full seasons in the Premier League with the Toffees, scoring 15 goals into the bargain.

Wickham cannot be put in that esteemed company, but he can still be seen as Town’s trump card in their quest to reach the top flight next season.

Whether that is with the player bagging the goals himself to propel Town to promotion, or whether it is the money used wisely following his departure, remains to be seen.

But Town boss Roy Keane has admitted in the past that he “would be lynched” by Town fans if he were to allow Wickham to leave this summer.

The player signed his first professional contract, a two-year deal, only a little over two months ago, insisting at the time that Ipswich Town was the only club he considered, despite all the interest elsewhere. He is in no hurry to leave, and it would do his career no harm to at least have one full season in the Championship.

Keane is under pressure to off-load players, in order to chase the “four or five targets” that he has in mind, but off-loading Wickham is not on his agenda.

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