Last Thursday, Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the signing of midfielder Victor Wanyama on a five year deal from Southampton. The Kenyan powerhouse joined White Hart Lane over a year after initially being linked with a move to North London, finally re-joining Mauricio Pochettino – the man who first brought him to England. I caught up with Southampton fan, Sam Roath about what can be expected of Wanyama – and how he is viewed amongst the South Coast faithful.
Victor Wanyama: what to expect
There was much excitement when we signed Victor Wanyama from Celtic in 2013. Here was a player who seemed to be cut out for the Premier League. He didn’t disappoint and proved to be a very good signing for us, forming a partnership with Morgan Schneiderlin which helped propel us to 8th in the 2013/14 season and then 7th in 2014/15. His partnership with Schneiderlin helped our defence no end, as we conceded the second fewest goals in the 2014/15 campaign and, whilst Schneiderlin took most of the plaudits, Wanyama was crucial in the defensive midfield role alongside him. With Schneiderlin and Wanyama in the team, we had a partnership which was genuine top four quality, and the fans recognised we’d lose both players eventually.
So what will he bring to Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield? First and foremost, immense strength. Expect to see opposition players bounce off him as he shields the ball and plays safe passes. Don’t expect him to play Hollywood balls. Dier and Dembélé are both Wanyama’s superior technically. In terms of strength however, Wanyama surpasses Dier and rivals Dembélé. His physical presence is incredible and he bullies attacking midfielders. 2-0 down at half-time against Liverpool this season, Ronald Koeman brought on Wanyama and Sadio Mané. We eventually won 3-2, in no small part due to Victor’s presence in midfield completely eradicating Liverpool’s counter-attacking threat.
When Wanyama is out of form, he’s sloppy in possession, makes rash tackles and appears uninterested. Last season he’s racked up three red cards, culminating in a five-match ban. Before last season he hadn’t received a red with us though, so I don’t think it’s a huge problem.
The addition of Wanyama means Tottenham have the physically strongest midfield in the league and one arguably of the best. It will be very interesting to see how he fits in, with Dier and Dembélé having a formidable partnership already. Qualifying for the Champions League means you’ll have more games than most next season so I think Pochettino will rotate the midfield from game to game. I don’t think Wanyama will be first choice in the defensive midfield position, I think Dier will hold on to his position but the signing of Wanyama will push Dier and propel him on to greater heights. Wanyama is a very good player though and I look forward to seeing how he develops at a club with a lot of potential.
Victor gave his all at Saints and penned a lovely leaving letter thanking the fans and the club for their support, so I think it’s only fair we wish him all the best. Good luck, Victor.