Revealed: Why Liverpool couldn't compete for Wickham
Published 23:00 29/06/11 By David Maddock
Liverpool's pursuit of Connor Wickham was scuppered by their failure to cut their own wage bill.
Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish was keen on Ipswich's England Under-21 striker, and was contemplating an 11th hour move to thwart Sunderland in the chase for the youngster.
But Sunderland and manager Steve Bruce were the winners, snapping up the coveted 18-year-old in a £13million deal.
Bruce, who will complete the signing of Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner today, said: “A number of top sides have been chasing Connor for some time now, so naturally we are absolutely delighted he has chosen to come to Sunderland.
“He’s still very young, but at 6ft 3in, he’s a physical presence. With his height and style of play, he will offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.
“We have been watching him for a while and he is improving and developing all the time. He’s a great prospect and I’m sure our supporters will love watching him play.”
Wickham, who signed a four-year contract, said: “Once the fee was agreed and I met with the manager, he basically told me everything about the club and the ambitions, and it was sold.
“Now everything is done and dusted, I just really can’t wait to get started."
Liverpool, meanwhile, are looking to offload at least 13 players and trim their wage bill by £30m a year by cutting the dead wood in the first team squad.
However, many of the players who are surplus to requirements are on such big wages they are proving almost impossible to sell, which has left the club's US owners with a massive dilemma.
They do not want to be lumbered with an even bigger squad that costs even more money, but do want to support Dalglish in his attempts to land bright, young talent.
Sunderland's bold bid for Wickham came at a bad time for Liverpool, and now Dalglish must work hard to offload players such as Joe Cole, Alberto Aquilani, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Maxi Rodriguez, Philipp Degen and Paul Konchesky.
The Reds boss is still looking for new faces at left-back, centre-half, midfielder, left winger and striker, and has the likes of Charlie Adam, Scott Dann, Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing on his radar.