Victor Wanyama is closing in on a move to Tottenham for a fee reported to be in the region of £11m, with a medical pending. He will be joining up with former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who knows how to deploy the Kenyan effectively, having done so at Southampton. It is a good move for Spurs, who lacked a defensive midfielder last season. Eric Dier did a good job filling in, but he he isn’t a top level holding midfielder yet and Wanyama adds strength to that area of the pitch.
The most impressive aspect of this deal is the price tag. At £11m, Wanyama is a bargain, and shows that it is possible to still find value in a market where Premier League clubs can afford to overvalue their key players (see Troy Deeney). Spurs are very effective at carrying out their transfer business, and have certainly got a long-term project in mind. At the age of 24, Wanyama has the best years of his career ahead of him and fits in well with the young squad at White Hart Lane. Their potential as a squad is huge and will worry the other top sides in the division. Pochettino is building something special, with Wanyama being one of the final pieces in that.
Regular watchers of the Premier League will be familiar with Wanyama, as he has played for Southampton for three years. He has been a key part of the defensive unit with the Saints, providing cover for the back four and showing his leadership abilities through organising the side well. He is a great tackler, and reads the game well, as shown by his average of 2.3 interceptions per game. The Kenyan international is also good in the air, and can be a great player to have for set pieces at both ends of the pitch.
There are weaknesses to his game though, and they have been evident throughout his time at Southampton. Last season, he picked up three red cards, showing his poor discipline, which he will need to work on at Tottenham. There is no doubting his tackling ability, but he can be rash at times and Pochettino will want to iron those challenges out of his game. He is also technically limited. He is able to play simple passes and carry the ball, but he isn’t going to play 40 yard passes or beat opposition players with ease. This isn’t an issue though as his role will be to regain possession and give the ball to the more talented attacking players, such as Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Next season, Pochettino will have midfield options and that will make competition for places fierce, only enhancing the performances on the pitch. If he continues to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation, he will likely use a combination of Wanyama, Dier and Mousa Dembele in the double pivot. Although Dier and Dembele are very good players, neither are an out-and-out destroyer like Wanyama, and Tottenham missed that, especially during the run in. He will strengthen their defence and add leadership qualities to the midfield. He will also help Dier a lot, as the English international can learn a lot about the defensive midfield position from how Wanyama operates.
Tottenham had their best chance of winning the league title last season, but they lost momentum during the run in. The losses to Southampton and Newcastle showed that there is still a lot of work to get the side to compete consistently for the title. Wanyama will add steel to the midfield, and that will be important, especially in the Champions League. Wanyama has experience in the competition with some of his best performances of his career coming for Celtic against Barcelona. He will be keen to return to the best competition in Europe and develop into one of the continent’s best defensive midfielders during his spell at White Hart Lane. It is a clever signing by Spurs, who will continue to find bargains like this in a saturated market.