Is Wanyama risking pulling off an "Obi Mikel" at Tottenham?
It’s not everyday that you come across a Kenyan in the global football circles. Football is simply perhaps not their thing, there are other things they are quite good at. Exceptionally so. For instance, when it comes to marathon running, they are the best Olympians. Everyone knows that. Should you get a chance to stumble upon one, he/she must be really outstanding and that’s the case of Victor Wanyama, the Kenyan captain and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder. Well, there is however an unsettling feeling around Vic’s Spurs career which is floating in the air.
A Pochettino’s Tottenham “Renaissance” Trooper
The North London is now easily regarded as one of the top six sides in the English Premier League, thanks to Mauricio Pochettino’s current reign, who took the reins from Tim Sherwood in 2014. The Argentine has transformed the club’s philosophy into a highly coveted attacking style of football and has seen them return to UEFA Champions League football, even rubbing shoulders and beating the likes of record winners Real Madrid, 3-1 at Wembley in the 2017/18 tournament. The club is on course to open their new stadium and however still pressing on towards some first piece of silverware under Pochettino, all sounding much like their North London rivals, Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman who is widely regarded to have “built” the club’s Emirates stadium and brought in an attractive style of play to England but also enjoyed limited silverware success in a 22-year tenure.
Now, true to the story is that Victor Mugubi Wanyama emerged as one of the special troopers in Pochettino’s transformed squad. He first made contact with the Vic in 2013 when he signed him from the Scottish Premier League club, Celtic for a fee understood to be £12.5 million to become the first ever Kenyan to play in the English Premier League.
Mauricio clearly loved Wanyama’s style of play and even brought him to Spurs in 2016 and went on to become a crowd favorite as a “no nonsense” type of defensive midfielder who shoves opponents off the ball with great stamina to pick out passes in the attacking third or sprint forward to finish some chances. In fact, according to the Premier League official stats, he boasts of a superior tackle success rate of 76% in 140 appearances in the division, higher than the 2018 FIFA FIFPRO XI winner, N’golo Kante or arguably the best defensive midfielder in the division, Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye.
A series of major and minor injuries have seen the 27-year-old’s career progressing slower than it first looked. He suffered a knee injury in the early stages of the 2017/18 season that saw him sidelined for four months, only to return to full training in December 2017. Since then, he has found it hard to pick up some momentum with slight injuries and mostly managerial decisions sidelining him out of the side. He has managed just fifty-five appearances since 2016 for Spurs with 36 starts in the first season while only nine starts have come to his name since August 2017. Wanyama is clearly a player who seem to be moving further down the pecking order as each day goes by at Tottenham. He did have a wow moment in February 2018 when he scored a thunderbolt for Spurs at Anfield against Liverpool after coming on as a substitute. With that stunner, he won the Premier League goal of the month but that was the last of it.
An Obi Mikel Chelsea vibe surrounding Wanyama’s career?
Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel, is one of Africa’s greatest exports to the English top flight who is believed to have wasted a career at Chelsea after spending eleven years at the club from 2006-2017 managing only 249 appearances with a handful of them as a substitute and some in the least competitive matches such as those for domestic cups. Most people build legend status in that time, for example the Ivorian Didier Drogba did was worshipped at the club after spending only eight years. Mikel even accepted a change of role from being a potent attacking midfielder to a defensive one in that period, eventually getting a break late on when he moved to the Chinese Super League.
At 27 years of age, its starting to look like Wanyama might become a permanent bench warmer after managing just one appearance this 2018/19 season in all competitions. Even Spurs fans are getting frustrated at the snub of the Kenyan international for the English trio of Eric Dier, Moussa Dembele and Harry Winks in the Tottenham midfield. With Pochettino believed to have a keen eye on English talent and developing it, Wanyama might be risking a career to remember for all Kenyans.
What do you think is the fate of the Kenyan rare gem in Victor Mugubi Wanyama?