Tottenham Hotspur’s Victor Wanyama was certainly poised to leave the North London side in the January transfer window. The Kenyan was a transfer target for Amiens SC as well as Spanish club Leganes. However, both failed in their attempts to sign the player on loan following Spurs’ rejection on their loan bids. Celtic FC too were interested in resigning the 28-year-old midfielder.
Victor Wanyama made 91 appearances for the Scottish side from 2011-13 and contributed massively towards Celtic’s first two Scottish Premiership titles, leading to him soon becoming a fan favourite. He even played a vital role in the Hoops’ Scottish Cup winning campaign under Neil Lennon. Moreover, Neil Lennon was called a ‘Huge admirer of the player’, as per Dailymail.
However, it did seem extremely unlikely that Victor Wanyama would make a return to Parkhead, considering that he seemed steadfast in the high wages he wanted to be paid. The Lilywhites paid him €65,000 in wages despite his declining importance to the team, following the arrival of Jose Mourinho and subsequently, young midfielder Gedson Fernandes to N17.
Moreover, the Kenyan midfielder has only played two Premier League games this season. It was certainly not feasible for the Hoops to be paying a 28-year-old midfielder, who would have only joined as a loanee as much as that amount unless they were in an extremely dire situation. However, many would argue that Celtic could have pushed for a permanent move for the midfielder from Spurs which might have then justified the hefty tag.
Given that Mourinho is close to beginning a mass rebuild of the squad and also how far down the pecking order Wanyama had fallen, Daniel Levy could have easily been convinced to sell the midfielder to the Scottish side. Hence the question pops up, did Celtic make a mistake in letting the opportunity to sign the midfielder slip through their hands, with the midfielder making a surprise move to Canadian side Montreal Impact amidst all the speculation?
Neil Lennon had a few words to say regarding Wanyama:
“The problem with Victor is where do you fit him in with bringing Soro in if we have Brown, Bitton, McGregor, and Ntcham? I don’t think that’ going to be an option. I wouldn’t have thought so.”
However, he also mentioned that Celtic’s ideal signing would be a player who had enough experience under his belt and was fit enough to play for the club as soon as the player signed for them. No doubt Victor Wanyama could have proved to be such a player.
But in truth, it seems like Celtic had no such requirement to sign the midfielder, despite the experience and quality he would have brought with him. With reference to Celtic’s recent Premiership game against Livingston, which ended in a 2-2 draw, we witnessed Scott Brown often being on the losing side in a midfield fight. Many a time he was caught losing possession of the ball too easily to be excused. Callum McGregor stunned throughout the game and showcased absolute control and composure. Centrally positioned Elyounoussi did moderately well but failed to make a large impact on the game. Lastly, Taylor started on a high note but his crossing began to let him down as the game progressed.
Looking at the overall performance of the team in midfield, it can be said that all errors made were non-repetitive and well made up for the defenders, who carried the ball forward well. Victor Wanyama could have no doubt bolstered the quality of the midfield, but the €8m tag on him being fulfilled by the Celtics would have been completely unnecessary and would have effectively made him surplus to requirements.
It would serve Celtic much better in the long run to scout a younger talent from the Premier League, such as Dwight McNeil, who would make a great addition to the team’s midfield, given his adaptability and speed. He could perhaps give a rest to some of the usual starters, even as a late substitute, no doubt. As such, it seems that Celtic made the right decision passing up on a Victor Wanyama return.