Connor Wickham believes he needed a fresh start after completing his £9million move to Crystal Palace.
Wickham’s switch from Sunderland to Palace was today confirmed, with the striker penning a five-year deal with the Eagles after the Black Cats accepted an offer last week from Alan Pardew’s side.
The England Under-21 striker netted a modest 11 goals in 79 Premier League appearances for Sunderland after arriving on Wearside as a 17-year-old, following an £8million move from Ipswich in the summer of 2011.
But he proved to be a figure that divided opinion in his first full season as a Sunderland player last year after playing a key role in the Great Escape 12 months earlier.
With three other strikers on the books, Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat gave the go-ahead to Wickham’s exit and the frontman himself is keen for a new challenge.
“I think I needed the fresh start, I had four years up north and it’s been a bit stop-start,” said Wickham.
“Now I’ve come back home and I can settle down and see my family a bit more and hopefully let my football do the talking.”
Sunderland had been looking to offload one of their frontmen this summer, with Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe all fighting for the lone striker role.
Fletcher and Graham - who could still depart before the end of the transfer window - were expected to be the likeliest to leave as they entered the final 12 months of their contracts.
But Palace’s decision to meet Sunderland’s asking price last week - after their initial bid was rejected - saw the Black Cats cash-in on Wickham.
“We have too many strikers and if I could have held on to them all, I wouldn’t really have wanted to sell him at just 22 years of age,” said Advocaat.
“But we simply had too many players in that position and that’s why the decision was made.”
Sunderland will reinvest some of the Wickham fee immediately, with the Black Cats close to landing midfield duo Yann M’Vila and Leroy Fer.