CONNOR Wickham has ended more than six months of talks over his future by agreeing a new contract with Sunderland.
The Black Cats have been locked in negotiations with Wickham and his representatives since the end of last season after the striker’s pivotal role in the club’s dramatic escape from relegation.
Wickham’s previous contract was due to expire next summer and there were real fears that he would leave the club at the end of the season, albeit Sunderland would be owed compensation due to his age.
But the contract discussions finally reached a successful conclusion this afternoon after Wickham put pen to paper on a new four-year deal which will keep him at the Stadium of Light until the summer of 2019.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet said: “I’m delighted that Connor has committed his future to us for the next few years.
“After his contribution at the end of last year, he continued to improve his football and become an important part of our team.
“He keeps learning, he is able to adapt to different positions up front and he is enjoying our philosophy of play so I’m really looking forward to keep working with him for the benefit of our club.
“I think it was very important to tie down a young English centre forward as there are not many around, this shows clearly the way this football club wants to progress.”
Wickham has started all but one of Sunderland’s 15 Premier League outings this season and netted three goals in all competitions.
But despite that prevalent role, there were major doubts over Wickham’s future on Wearside after Poyet warned during the summer that Sunderland could not afford a repeat of the Jack Colback situation from last season and the club would have to consider selling the £8million frontman if he didn’t agree a new contract.
Those remarks angered Wickham’s family, yet Sunderland remained keen to keep the former Ipswich Town man and rejected a couple of bids from West Ham.
And after holding sit-down talks with Poyet earlier this month over the head coach’s plans for his development, the 21-year-old finally put pen to paper.
Wickham tweeted: “Glad to have signed a new deal at Sunderland. Thanks to everybody involved.”