IBWM StaffComment


IBWM StaffComment
Ken Victor Wanyama.jpg

Victor Wanyama     22     Midfielder    Southampton     Kenya

2013 has been…

This kid is good. He’s taken to the Barclays Premier League like a player groomed to play at the highest level from a very early age. Setting records as he goes, Wanyama is the first Kenyan to appear in the English top flight; Wanyama has added a certain steel to the Southampton midfield and been a vital part in their storming start to the league season.

Playing alongside Morgan Schneiderlin in the Saints midfield, the duo have quickly gelled into one of the league’s strongest partnerships. Wanyama sits deeper, shielding the defence and breaking up play and allowed the Frenchmen to play further forward than he did last season. Morgan goes beyond the midfield, making late runs and adding to the Southampton attack while Wanyama remains disciplined in the centre of the park.

Victor is a terrific player and has started every Premier League game this season for his new club. A few eyebrows were raised when the transfer fee of £12.5 million was first reported; but he has quickly settled into life with Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Even at the price, Wanyama has been so impressive straight out of the gate that it’s clear to us Southampton will make a tidy profit on the Kenyan captain when they come to sell.

Unsurprisingly, Wanyama was a star in the Scottish Premier League. Having joined Celtic for £800,000, it didn’t take long for Victor to impress for the league champions. Having immediately endeared himself to the fans with his choice of squad number – 67; in honor of the Lisbon Lions, Celtic's 1967 European Cup winning team – Wanyama was soon dominating the centre of the park for Neil Lennon’s side.

Part of the Scottish giant’s new approach to recruitment; there was always the feeling that Wanyama would not be a player they could hold on to for long. Signed cheaply and modest wages (compared to the biggest teams in Europe), Victor is an example of Celtic’s system executed to perfection. Not only did he play a telling part in two league victories; but when he scored a crucial goal in one of the club’s most memorable victories.

Wanyama’s towering header against Barcelona helped the Scottish club to a famous 2-1 win over Lionel Messi, Xavi and company. He was a rock for Neil Lennon in the centre of the park across both close games with Barcelona and such performances only caused to alert a number of suitors.

His time in Scotland did end on a sour note as he tried to wriggle his way out of the club. He rejected improved contract offers and made it clear that he wanted to move on. Celtic were unlikely to stand in his way forever but the episode was an unsavory end to what had been a prosperous two years for the club. After much posturing, Southampton’s offer was accepted and Wanyama headed south to new pastures.

What next?

After their strong start, Southampton’s players might just be eyeing European qualification. It’s probably not likely to happen and failure to stay in their current position can’t be seen as a disappointing season. Anything in the top half is good for the Saints and will prove a building block for them to build on next year. The average age of their first team is frighteningly low and as they gain more experience together, they’ll improve as a unit.

Wanyama is a rock in the midfield and can feel sure of his place for the time being. Southampton are a wealthy club, but they won’t go replacing a £12.5 million signing in the next two or three seasons. He’ll be allowed time to settle in, work his way through a bad spell and come out the other end. Whereas we expected him to join a club with ambitions on a handful of trophies, a side like Southampton allows Victor a chance to grow without the pressure of an instant impact required.

Already this season he’s produced commanding performances that have had rival fans wishing he was part of their squad. Against Manchester United and Arsenal, Wanyama was outstanding and rarely allowed either midfield to find their natural rhythm. It was only when changes were made or teams played around Wanyama’s imposing presence that they profited.

Wanyama should be a regular in the Champions League within two years. That’s unlikely to be with Southampton. However, given the ease with which he’s slotted into the pace and power of the Barclays Premier League, we don’t imagine the handful of clubs competing for the title will be keen to see him depart for the continent with his next move.

"Victor Wanyama is the only Kenyan to ever score in the Champions League; thanks to his goal against Barcelona." - Opta

B     Looks like a player enjoying his fifth season in the Premier League; rather than his first. Sky’s the limit and all that