Victor Wanyama: Why Celtic’s Powerhouse Can Solve Arsenal's "Timid" Approach
After a debut season at Celtic that exceeded expectations, Kenyan powerhouse Victor Wanyama was linked with a Premiership move all summer. Interest from QPR, Newcastle and Stoke was touted, but since his stunning header and fine display against Barcelona, Arsenal have been linked to a move this transfer window. Here's what I know...
Wanyama was born in Nairobi in June 1991 and comes from a footballing family. His father was a Kenyan international, his older brother McDonald Mariga plays for Inter Milan, and two other brothers play in the Kenyan league. He played youth football in Sweden and his first senior club was AC Beerschot in Belgium.
What’s All The Fuss About?
Neil Lennon bought Wanyama for less than a million quid from Beerschot just last summer. Ostensibly signed as one for the future, injuries to Scott Brown then Beram Kayal saw him get a lot more first team action than anticipated, and he impressed everyone with his performances. Pace and power are the most obvious strings to the Warrior’s bow, but there’s a lot more to him than that, and it’d be a simplification to call him a defensive midfielder. His acceleration and energy give him that much sought-after quality in today’s game, the box to box engine. He’s versatile too – though he’s easily at his most influential in the heart of the pitch he’s played a lot of his football at centre half and even pitched in at full-back when required. Towards the end of the season he also showed he can finish, with a couple of absolute crackers from around the edge of the box. If he does move, he arrives as a league winner with experience in Europe, and an accomplished all-round performer.
And The Downside?
Having just turned 21, Wanyama still has a few rough edges. Though never a dirty player, his over enthusiasm has got him in a few scrapes and he’s prone to the odd rash tackle. His sending off in the explosive 3-2 defeat to Rangers last season is testament to this. Whether it merited a straight red card has been the subject of debate in Glasgow, but his two-footed lunge at Steven Whittaker in the powder- keg Old Firm environment was naïve to put it generously. In terms of influence, he isn’t yet the man who’ll stand up and be counted when the chips are down – he disappeared in one or two difficult European ties last term – but he looks a confident lad, and surely that will come.
Is A Premiership Move Likely?
Wanyama is just a year into a four-year contract, so Neil Lennon doesn’t have to let him go anywhere. That said, selling a big name to fund a the transfer kitty has been a pretty successful business model for Celtic in recent years and, constrained by the financial limitations of Scottish football, this is probably the way they’ll do business in the future – scout widely, buy low and sell high.
Would it work?
Arsenal have lacked muscle in midfield as of late, with Wenger describing his side's performance against Manchester City as "timid" so in this respect he might be the perfect buy. At the very least he’d make a good squad man, with the potential to develop into a quality player for years to come.
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