Football

Victor Wanyama: Football's next star?

Wanyama is keen to leave Celtic this summer. (©GettyImages)
Wanyama is keen to leave Celtic this summer. (©GettyImages).

Of those of you that don't pay attention to Scottish Football, not many of you will have heard of the young Kenyan Victor Wanyama. 

Those of you that do might recognise him as one of the hero's of Celtics historic triumph over Barcelona this past season. Whether you know who he is or not, there is a very good chance that you will be hearing a lot about him in the near future.

A move to the Premier League for the young African does look extremely likely. Celtic recently accepted an offer of £12 million for the 21-year-old from Southampton, but this fell through after the player couldn't agree personal terms. 

Wanyama has expressed a firm desire to leave Celtic and, as it stands, Cardiff City are looking most likely to wrap up the deal with a preliminary £10 million offer in process.

So why is it that these Premier League newbies are willing to splash out such a big chunk of their transfer budget on the Celtic man?

Well first of all he is strong – very strong. If anybody can find a player who can use his body to win a ball as well as Wanyama I will be very surprised. He absolutely dominates the centre circle with his good use of weight and fair physicality and you will not see him come out with the ball in 50/50 scenarios.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, he never gives the ball away. I have seen Wanyama play for entire matches without distributing so much as a slightly wayward pass. The key to this is he keeps it simple. He wins the ball and he plays it short. It's the centre of his game and it keeps everything ticking over smoothly at Celtic. A young man being so cool and calm on the ball is a very good sign for the future.

I think so far though, my emphasis on the simplistic features of Wanyama’s game hasn’t given him the credit that he's due. He is capable of some moments of absolute brilliance. His stunning header in the Barcelona win was one example of this. 

Throw in a couple of beautiful long range goals that he has scored in the Scottish Premier League and you realise how well the young man is shaping up to have a big impact on the game. 

Wanyama is very much a blast from the past - the kind of player the seventies would have embraced. He's actually, I believe, a much-needed breed of player in the English Premier League. 

A breed we haven't seen much of since the retirement of players like Roy Keane and Dennis Wise. So now that you've seen the type of players that I've compared his style to, the words popping into your head are probably 'disciplinary record'.

Wanyama's disciplinary record, as you might expect, is far from unblemished. He has picked up 14 yellow cards and one red in all competitions this season. I would however, suggest that this record isn't bad. Particularly not for a defensive midfielder and for a man who puts in as many crunching tackles as he does. 

In fact I would question any player, in his role, who did have an untarnished disciplinary record. Perhaps the English Premier League is a little less unforgiving on hard tackles than they are up north but all in all I think his temperament isn't any cause for concern.

Despite the Kenyan international's credentials being fairly unrecognised at this point, it would be nice to see one of the bigger clubs cash in on him. 

Purely on the basis that the higher end of the game really is lacking the kind of tenacity that he offers. He is the sort of player that would add a lot of credibility to the game in light of many recent controversies concerning 'simulation' or in technical terms 'rolling around on the floor like a wimp' and, indeed, the slight lack of hard tackles that go in at the top flight. 

Regardless of where Wanyama ends up or whether he reaches his full potential, he is an absolute credit to the game. His hard but fair tackles and cool head remind us of how simple the game can be. If he does, indeed, complete a move to Cardiff, he will be a valuable member of their squad and a leader out on the field. 

There is no doubt that securing this deal would significantly aid their chances of consolidating a place in the top flight and it will be no shock to me if this young powerhouse is a prominent name in world football in five years time.


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Topics:
Premier League
Football

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