With Victor Wanyama wanting a move away from Southampton, and Spurs being heavily linked, I asked long standing Celtic season-ticket holder Paul Thomson for his views on the tough tackling defensive midfielder. Here’s what I found out.
What are Wanyama’s qualities, what does he bring to a side and how did he improve Celtic?
Victor is an amazing athlete, built like a brick outhouse but with an excellent turn of pace & great poise. He brings industry and muscle to the midfield, but with the ability also to spring forward in support of the attack if the opportunity presents itself. He was a bit raw in his time with us and prone to the occasional rush of blood to the head in the tackle, but looks to have calmed down considerably in his time at Southampton. Victor is also a very effective passer of the ball and tends not to do anything too risky. He’s also pretty deadly in the air from set-pieces as he proved against Barcelona for us! In his time with us he brought steel to our midfield and his defensive qualities in particular were to the fore during our Champions League run in 2013.
Celtic have obviously had some great centre-midfield players in your time watching them, where does Wanyama rank?
It’s tempting to say he would rank very highly, but in reality we had him pretty early in his development and he was very much a rough diamond at that point. He’s certainly one of the strongest midfielders defensively we’ve had at the club, but he still had a lot of work to do on his overall game at the end of his two years with us. He fitted well in our business model of making prudent investments in young players with the hope of selling on for a future profit after a few years.
With any footballer there are always parts of his game that he can improve on, during his time at Celtic what were some of his weaknesses?
Victor was prone to a rash challenge on occasion and a little naive with it, most notably in the red card he received at Ibrox. It would be harsh to say he had any weaknesses, more parts of his game that hadn’t fully developed at the point he left us. At times it was difficult to believe how young he was, particularly watching him up against the likes of Xavi and Iniesta where he didn’t look out of place at all.
During that Champions League campaign in 2012/2013 when Celtic beat Barcelona, how integral was Wanyama when you played dare I say better sides than Celtic?
Victor gave our notoriously leaky defence a solid barrier of protection in front of it. We played a fairly conservative, by our standards, brand of football during that campaign, with Victor and Scott Brown giving us a rock solid base to spring counter-attacks from. That campaign removed a lot of the lingering doubts some of our support had about Victor as a player, as his defensive astuteness, strength and vision of passing came to the fore.
So there you have it. Wanyama seems ideal for the defensive midfield slot in the starting line up, which is currently occupied by a centre back. Strong, physically imposing, playing it simple to the more creative players, tough in the tackle – Victor Wanyama ticks all the boxes.
The $64 million question is, however, will Southampton sell to us?