An unsung hero, Victor Wanyama’s battled-hardened efforts as a ball-winning central midfielder often go unnoticed, at least by the untrained eye. That can’t be said of the Tottenham Hotspur fans who have, on more than one occasion, voiced their adoration of the powerful Kenyan, acknowledging that the Premier League club perform better with him than without him.
But he has been beset by injury and recently missed the London club’s defeat to rivals Manchester United. After picking up a knee injury prior to the 2018-2019 campaign, Wanyama found himself sidelined for two months before returning in Spurs’ cup game with Watford (in which they won on penalties). It’s these niggling injuries that have seen the Nairobi-born former Celtic and Southampton player named on a rumoured list of potential outgoing players despite having a contract running to 2021.
If Spurs can get Wanyama fit, he could play a crucial role in whether or not they challenge for the title. Injury has seen his performance drop (an average of 1.7 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per match last season compared to 2.5 and 1.1 a year earlier) but the player has been working hard to rediscover his best form following some extensive rehabilitation.
And let’s not forget that he can score a goal or two too. Last season, the man who became the first ever Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League, for Celtic against Barcelona in 2012, netted a thunderous strike in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Liverpool that won him the Goal of the Season award.
Breaking back into a midfield that possesses Harry Winks, Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele isn’t easy but, with Spurs still fighting in a number of competitions, including Europe, Wanyama’s presence would offer plenty of opportunities to rotate the squad without compromising performance.
For Spurs, his biggest contribution is in defence. When he first came to the club, they enjoyed the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 26 goals, but, last term, during which Wanyama was in and out of the team because of injury, that number swelled to 36.
With star striker Harry Kane now out through injury for an extended period of time, the London club may need to call on all their resources to stay in touch with the Premier League leaders Liverpool and Manchester City. It’s already proving tough after the re-emergence of Manchester United saw the Red Devils beat Spurs on home soil. Football betting now sees them 100/1 outsiders for the title.
Victor Wanyama’s future may lie elsewhere given the emergence of Spurs’ youngsters Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp during his injury absence. The Kenyan, who has earned over 50 caps for the national team since debuting at the age of 15, is busy in the gym trying to get fit again and, given injuries to other key players, including fellow midfielder Moussa Sissoko, that could see the door open to step back into the centre of the park and begin dominating like he used to.