Victor Wanyama was signed by Celtic for £900,000 from Belgium team Beerschot AC. Since his arrival he has impressed in green and white, and after helping the Glasgow giants to the last 16 of the Champions League and to another Scottish Premier League title after winning the league in 2012, he seems set to move on and make Celtic a massive profit. Sounds a lot like they type of signing Arsenal used to make.
According to the Daily Star, the Kenyan international could be set to join the Gunners for £10 million. While that is over ten times what Celtic paid for him in the summer of 2011, it would be money well spent as Wanyama would bring the strength, determination and tough tackling that Arsenal’s midfield has sorely missed.
Great on the ball, Arsenal’s midfield that includes Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, and occasionally Abou Diaby is not so when not in possession. Wanyama would bring a physical presence missing since Alex Song’s departure, but while the 25-year-old Cameroonian star would, according to the same Daily Star article, welcome a move back to the Emirates, Wenger would be better turning to Celtic’s star, who is four years younger, would probably cost less and certainly demand lower wages.
Arsenal fans may ask why their club did not snap Wanyama up when he was in Beligum, after all this used to be Arsene Wenger’s forte. However, times have changed, and it is not just Arsenal’s Premier League rivals who are casting their scouting networks long and far for young, undervalued talent.
Wenger’s transfer strategy has changed, and in some ways it has regressed. Instead of buying teenagers he can mould, unearth hidden gems or buy players who are ready to step up to the next level, the Frenchman has resorted to buying more and more players that have had their peak and no one else really wants.
Instead of snapping up players like Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris, and Lewis Holtby, who all ended up at north London rivals Tottenham, Wenger has almost resorted to panic buys, like Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Olivier Giroud, and Lukas Podolski. While they are not bad players, and Arteta brings proven Premier League class, the lack of competition Wenger had for those signings shows those players are not the best around.
With a reported war chest of £150 million at his disposal, Wenger could snap up some of Europe’s brightest talent, players with potential to improve but also with the hunger that the Gunners can often lack, and a resale value to keep the Arsenal board happy. He could usher in a new era at the Emirates and finally end their eight year trophy drought.
Wenger needs to bring the feel good factor back to Arsenal, and it is unlikely to happen with the squad he currently has at his disposal. There are some great talents to build on – Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott – but the supporting cast can be found lacking.
Arsenal will maintain a good reputation in Europe and across the globe even if they do not qualify for the Champions League next season. They will still be able to attract young stars that are looking for a big club to join, and Wenger can tell them they are key parts of a project to return Arsenal to the top. Wanyama could be the first of these stars, but he must not be the last.
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